As a dad, I cannot think of anything more horrific than something bad happening to one of my kids. The possibility of this haunts me sometimes during the day and has caused more than a few sleepless nights. So when I run across horror movies that deal with kids, I always try to take a look. After all, what is the point of watching a horror movie, if not to scare yourself? SPEAK NO EVIL deals not with one, but all of the children in a rural midwestern town. And although it’s not an excellent film, it still merits a look.
If you are not familiar with SPEAK NO EVIL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:
When all the children in a small religious town disappear, panic spreads quickly. But when the children finally return, they begin attacking the parents, and it becomes clear that they are possessed by a demon. The town is forced into a desperate and violent campaign to eliminate the possessed children, but one mother refuses to believe that her daughter is lost to the devil and will do whatever it takes to keep her alive, and save her from the demon inside.
The first time I read the plot synopsis, I immediately thought of films like COME OUT AND PLAY and ISLAND OF THE DAMNED. Kids going crazy and killing adults is a chilling concept, and every parent probably feels like I do, in that it’s a terrifying scenario with a no-win ending. If you can’t restrain or subdue a child that is trying to murder you, then what do you do? Kill him? A reprehensible option, but it does beg the question.
SPEAK NO EVIL delves into this situation, however the film never fully fleshes it out. As a result, the story feels a bit choppy here and there. One minute the townsfolk are trying to subdue their kids, and the next, they’re shooting them down in the street or burning them alive. I scratched my head as this quick transition emerged; it just didn’t feel right.
The acting is pretty good, especially when considering the leads haven’t done much in the past (per their IMDB pages). Young Olivia Cavender, who portrays the main possessed child, Joey Girl, does a fantastic job in her role. I had no problem believing she was overtaken by demonic forces. I hope to see more of her in the future.
Likewise, the cinematography in SPEAK NO EVIL is impressive as well. There are several well-crafted surrealistic scenes that leave the viewer feeling uneasy. This helped set the dark tone for the film, especially those that featured the horse/dog-headed demonic images. THOSE were truly creepy.
But the storyline is where this film falls short for me. Several things happen that are not explained, and this immediately makes me frown while watching a film. For example, the preacher’s assistant acts homicidal from the minute he steps onscreen for the first time. He seems eager to shoot the children before any signs of demonic possession pop up. And we never see how he convinces the townspeople to kill their own kids. Like I mentioned before, it seems like one minute the parents are worried, and the next they are loading their shotguns.
Still, SPEAK NO EVIL is a truly chilling film that horror fans should enjoy. It is relatively short, clocking in at 74 minutes, but it packs enough of a punch in that small time to provide some scares and entertainment. Despite its flaws, I liked it, and I recommend giving it a try. It releases today, so make a note.