With great horror films such as Pearl and Barbarian on theaters right now, Shudder’s new controversial horror Speak No Evil might stay under the radar, but every horror fan should check it out.
The Danish film is predominantly an English-speaking feature, following a Danish couple and their daughter visiting a Dutch family they met on a holiday. What started as a blissful weekend turns into a nightmare as the Danes struggle to stay polite in the face of the most absurd situations. Escalating into a terrifying third act, Speak No Evil will surely be remembered as one of the most disturbing movies of recent years.
10/10 The Visit (2015)
Speak No Evil, at its core, is a movie that realistically portrays what happens when we consciously expose ourselves to evil. While the barbarity that falls upon the main couple in the movie happens mainly because they let it fall upon them, The Visit deals with these themes in an indirect way, which arguably makes the situation even scarier.
In the film, the two teenage protagonists may or may not be in danger, but small details hint something very wrong going on during the siblings’ weekend at their remote grandparents’ house.
9/10 The Killing Of A Sacred Deer (2017)
Speak No Evil is far from being the first movie about kindness treated with spite. Five years ago, Yogos Lanthimos blew viewers’ minds with the deeply unsettling psychological thriller The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, where the supportive attitude of a renowned doctor to let a young boy become closer to his family brings about a terrifying curse that will forever change the course of his life.
The film uses interesting symbolism to deal with themes such as guilt and grudge, offering one of the creepiest antagonists in recent memory: Martin, a young, self-contained boy with disturbing intentions.
8/10 Get Out (2017)
Get Out revolutionized the horror genre by subverting the final girl trope, balancing horror with relevant social commentary, and alternating between graphic and psychological violence at ease. The brilliant debut film of Jordan Peele stars Daniel Kaluuya in the role of Chris, a young African-American who goes upstate to visit his white girlfriend’s family, finding himself caught up in a dreadful family conspiracy that goes on for years.
Just like Speak No Evil, Get Out deals with how long it takes for someone to draw the line in the face of a series of suspicious situations. When it’s clear that something weird is going on, perhaps it’ll be too late to turn back.
7/10 The Ordeal (2004)
The Ordeal drags its main character across a spiral of madness and a hopeless land of cruelty. Starting with the typical set-up of a man whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Marc, a traveling entertainer, gets more than he bargained for after arriving in a small town full of strange inhabitants.
Just like Speak No Evil, The Ordeal incites viewers to question every decision the protagonist makes, feeling a mix of anger and pity as one question lingers in their minds “what would I do in his place, after all?.” Soon enough, small incidents lead Marc to actual hell on Earth.
6/10 The Invitation (2015)
If the invitation setup isn’t similar enough, the series of darkly embarrassing social situations that take over the narrative ties The Invitation and Speak No Evil hand in hand. In the film, a man reluctantly accepts an invitation to his ex-wife’s dinner party, the first of many bad decisions that reopen old wounds and lead up to a tense atmosphere among guests.
The Invitation is the kind of movie that hints at an outburst of violence between characters at any time but knows how to grip viewers throughout the anxiety-inducing build-up. Once the film finally explodes into a bloody feast there’s not even time to breathe and shout out to the haunting final shot.
5/10 Inside (2007)
French horror movies of the early 2000s were all part of a disturbing new movement of films known as New French Extremity, concerned with breaking taboos and filling every frame with unsettling extremes of violence and sex. Inside might be one of the best examples, to begin with.
The film follows a grieving mother on the brink of motherhood, troubled by a strange visitor who wants her baby by any means. The plot, while simple, quickly spirals out of control and crosses the limits of onscreen violence. If Speak No Evil fans are looking for a film with an ending as revolting and outrageous, Inside is a perfect choice.
4/10 Martyrs (2008)
Martyrs is often on the top of every list of controversial films, and the kind of horror movie people usually only watch once. The film even inspired an American remake, which wasn’t able to capture the level of desperation and depravity of the original French feature.
While the intentions of Speak No Evil‘s antagonists aren’t clear, their obsessive method lies behind a darker truth. In Martyrs, a mysterious cult kidnaps and tortures innocent people in search of a horrifying secret. When one of the victims escapes, a new terrifying journey begins. The third act of the movie is similar to Speak No Evil in terms of being extremely graphic and hard to watch, but the violence somehow entrances viewers as it reaches a final boiling point.
3/10 The Strangers (2008)
The biggest difference between The Strangers and Speak No Evil is that the former didn’t let the intruders in. Highly inspired by Haneke’s Funny Games, the film follows a young couple terrorized by three unknown assailants in an isolated vacation home.
The movie is a great portrayal of the extremes we go to survive, resorting to desperate measures and violent impulses that can quickly turn the tables. It’s interesting seeing how The Strangers takes the opposite direction taken by Speak No Evil, which makes the two films highly similar yet drastically divergent.
2/10 The Vanishing (1988)
Also known as Spoorloos, The Vanishing is one of the most shocking thrillers out there, using simplicity and an unconventional narrative that leads to a truly disturbing conclusion. The Vanishing is a masterclass of suspense and build-up, meticulously driving the audience down the rabbit hole.
Three years after his wife Saskia mysteriously went missing at a gas station during a biking holiday, Rex can’t seem to move on without knowing what happened. When a strange man contacts him revealing to be the one responsible for Saskia’s disappearance, the two embark on a risky journey. Just like Speak No Evil, the film puts the victim and perpetrator face to face without a chance of redemption for both of them.
1/10 Funny Games (1997)
Funny Games is arguably the most revolting movie ever made, offering the “good guys” no hope whatsoever. Just like in Speak No Evil, it’s unpleasant to watch the main characters get trapped in the most unsettling situations, but viewers simply can’t bring themselves to look away. The film induces its audience to think “what if they tried this”, or “what if they did this”, but deep inside it’s clear how those characters’ fates were marked right from the start.
Funny Games follows a family on vacation taken hostage by two psychotic young men, engaging in a series of sadistic games where the violence doesn’t need blood or brutality to shock.