Speak No Evil (2022)
You know you're onto a potential pearl when the project gets the tone spot on from minute one. The malevolent undercurrent is evident even before the opening credits, followed by what you can feel is faux normality, the attention to detail of things left unsaid complimented by some warm, textured yet uncomfortable visuals. The score doesn't do anything either to release the slow build tension.
"What's the worst that can happen?"
When a Danish couple meet a Dutch couple on holiday, they get on well enough to receive an invite to visit. Whilst they're not exactly hopping up and down with enthusiasm at the notion, they decide it would be rude to reject them, so they decide to drive the eight hours to Holland to see them. And here the silent regret of their decisions starts to mount up. On their own, these moments just seem uncomfortable enough to make you stop and briefly wonder, but collectively this unease starts to become apparent and pressing.
The trick to Speak No Evil is that it is often just unusual enough throughout to imply a cultural speed bump, allowing the behaviours of one set of these partners to seem almost forgivable, based on the ignorance of the others, making the visitors appear somewhat socially frigid and needlessly strained. For a time, plausible deniability will be our bywords.
It is intermittently guilty of some of the normal tropes you would expect to find, like abject stupidity that sometimes defies common sense, but it isn't laden with it, and the moments of considered, wordless, menacing subtlety more than makes up for them.
At ninety minutes, it doesn't dawdle and you don't really want it to. Not because of the quality, which is consistently high, but simply because you may not want to watch, for reasons that will genuinely make you squirm.