I think as far as horror films go, the genre has reached its quota of possessed people floating in the air doing fucking back bends. It’s probably the most recurring effect in possession movies nowadays, even being featured on many posters and as the “money shot” in some trailers. Demons make gymnasts of their victims, we get it. Time to move on. This tired visual is used again in the new film Speak No Evil. I love possession tales and I admire what the filmmaker (who goes by the nom de plume Roze) was going for in the narrative, but Speak No Evil misses the mark too many times to create a cohesive whole.
The film follows Anna (Gabrielle Stone), a recently divorced mother who’s too busy getting laid to pay attention to her young daughter, Joey. As Anna and her new hook-up Creighton (Carl Jensen) are busy knocking boots, a gnarly looking demon rises out of the ground in their yard and abducts Joey. This was my favorite part of the movie right here. The effect of the bastard emerging from the ground looks fantastic and is shot wide to give it an extra creepy visual boost. The all-black demon looks wicked too, but we won’t see him again for a while.
As Anna and Creighton begin their search for Joey, they soon realize that the rest of the kids in town have disappeared too. To make matters worse, the vanishing children have spawned an irrational, religiously fueled mob within the town. They blame the disappearances on Anna’s sin, obviously. Joey then emerges from wherever the horned sonsabitch took her, but she’s changed. First of all, her tongues been cut out. Second, she’s kinda possessed.
The rest of the kids come back too, all changed, all tongueless. The logic of the mob leads them to decide they have to slaughter all the children, before the demon who snatched them can claim the entire town. I hate kids too, but be cool, guys.
Leading up to the kids coming back, Speak No Evil suffers from a flood of pacing issues. The shit just drags and drags through Anna’s relationship issues and attempts to explore the mythology around the kidnapping demon, who’s based on a sun god detailed in the Old Testament (the best testament). Unfortunately, the lore is barely grazed and only presented in a vague manner. If a little more time was spent giving this ancient being some depth, the film would’ve been way more creepy.
The second half of the film picks up a bit, but by this time I didn’t care enough about Anna or Joey to feel engaged. Although the horde of possessed kids is creepy, we’ve seen this typa thing done better before (Who Can Kill a Child, Children of the Corn, Village of the Damned, Romper Room).
Gabrielle Stone is the daughter of scream queen Dee Wallace, but it looks like this apple fell far from the tree. She’s unable to carry the film and barely displays any emotion beyond “frantic” and “vapid.” I don’t think it’s entirely her fault though. The Anna character appears to be written completely ineptly – with little thought given to the anguish a mother whose child goes missing would actually endure. Only a few scenes after Joey vanishes, Anna is on the couch, goofing off with Creighton. She’s a baffling, frustrating character.
As is the entirety of Speak No Evil. This is definitely one to skip, guys.
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