Speak No Evil Movie Review
Written by Robert Gold
Released by Gas Mask Films
Written and directed by Roze
2013, 75 minutes, Not Rated
Gabrielle Stone as Anna
Carl Jensen as Creighton
Olivia Cavender as Joey
Mario Guzman as Dale
Alexandria Stevens as Leandra
Panic hits a small town when all of the children vanish overnight. The local police force is insufficient so the residents form search parties of their own. Prayer is the popular response, as religious leaders try to maintain a sense of authority while tensions build around the community. Some zealots believe the source of the trouble may reside with Anna, the “too young” mother whose daughter went missing a day before the others, so they send her a message written on a brick through her front window. Anna races down to the local church to defend her honor as she is feisty and won't take the blame for the town's problems.
The children return in one large group just as suddenly as they disappeared. They are physically unharmed, but emotionally damaged and carrying Anna's daughter, Joey, who has apparently been tortured. With their families reunited, everyone in town instantly dismisses their mob mentality and resumes their normal daily routine. Something is different with the children however, who are now screaming cannibalistic banshees out for blood. Anna takes it upon herself to figure out what the hell is going on, but the answers she receives are far more troubling than expected.
With a brisk running time of 70 minutes (without credits), one would think this would be a tight little thriller and in the second half you'd be right. The film suffers from pacing problems since characters are quick to bicker too frequently and their actions appear motivated only because the plot requires it. To be fair, the script offers some pretty bold moments in the final act, but unfortunately much of what precedes this is confusing drivel intended to be delivered as mysterious metaphor.
Speak No Evil is the sophomore effort from writer/director/editor Roze (Deadfall Trail), who has grown slightly as a filmmaker but continues to lack the skills to deliver a satisfying film. This is particularly frustrating since there is likely a good story lurking here, but without proper character development or pacing the underdeveloped plot limps along missing one opportunity after another. Roze fumbles an early scene when Anna reports her child missing to the police and the director has three actors all facing camera right so everyone appears to be speaking to something outside the room. There are some nice images peppered throughout, but those may be better credited to cinematographer Rich Robles.
The cast really shouldn't be blamed for their efforts, but they are limited to two types of performances: over-the-top or mildly dismissive. Gabrielle Stone (The Lighthouse) carries the film for better or worse, but is not a particularly likeable protagonist and frequently shouts dialogue so audiences will know how tough she is. Supporting characters are introduced but never developed and while I don't believe everything needs to be explained in full, none of the townspeople are asking any questions either. Subtitles accompany one character's dialogue, which are either intended to be artsy or perhaps in compensation for poor audio levels. The best actors in the film are the freaky children, even if a lot of their screen time is also filled with screaming.
Speak No Evil could have been a solid effort with a stronger script and better editing. The ideas are there and some of the imagery is sufficiently creepy, but it all feels squandered in its current form. This is a real shame, especially since the third act really is effective. Maybe these ideas can be recycled in a better film down the road.
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