Speak No Evil looks terrifying — but it’s another victim of Hollywood’s worst horror trend

Speak No Evil looks terrifying — but it’s another victim of Hollywood’s worst horror trend

The first trailer for Speak No Evil, starring James McAvoy as a psychopathic doctor, has arrived, and while the movie looks terrifying (‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ will never be the same again), it’s yet another victim to Hollywood’s worst horror trend.

There’s no doubt about it: 2024 is the year for horror. Terrifier 3, Longlegs, MaXXXine… these are mere drops in the ocean of the new releases hitting theaters or streaming in the coming months. 

Then there’s James Watkins’ Speak No Evil, starring McAvoy and Aisling Franciosi as a couple who invite their new friends to their countryside home for a vacation, only for events to take a very sinister turn. 

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s a direct remake of Christian Tafdrup’s 2022 Danish film of the same name. We’re talking a near scene-for-scene copy, one that demonstrates Hollywood’s worst trend of taking perfect horrors and remaking them in “American” is still going strong. 

Speak No Evil is one of many recycled horror hits  

It’s no secret that remakes and reboots are all the rage – ever since the rise of streaming (and the subsequent death of cinemas), major Hollywood studios seem unwilling to invest in new property, nor are audiences willing to shell out ticket prices for movies they’re not sure about. It’s a vicious cycle. 

You could argue we’re seeing the tide start to change with the recent Barbenheimer phenomenon, although even then, you had major actors leading the charge, and it’s not like Barbie and Oppenheimer are unknown figures.

But the pattern of recycling foreign horrors and watering them down for American audiences is particularly hard to stomach. Not only does this trend stifle creativity and originality in Hollywood, but it also undermines the unique cultural perspectives and nuances present in the originals. 

Speak No Evil looks terrifying — but it’s another victim of Hollywood’s worst horror trend

There was no need to remake Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy

By remaking these movies for US audiences with big names leading the cast (in the case of the Speak No Evil rebrand, McAvoy and Mackenzie Davis), Blumhouse is almost implying a lack of trust in the OG material to stand on its own merit. 

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We’ve seen this happen time and again within the genre. Perhaps I am particularly sensitive to this matter, as two of my favorite horror movies of all time – Pascal Laugier’s bloody masterpiece Martyrs and Park Chan-wook’s poetic, violent Oldboy – got the apple pie treatment. 

Both remakes are perfect examples of why this trend is such a bad idea. The Goetz brothers’ 2015 iteration of Martyrs was a soulless shadow of the 2008 original, taking away any of the edge and atmosphere that made its predecessor so impactful. The exact same can be said for Spike Lee’s 2013 Oldboy, starring Josh Brolin. And We Are What We Are. And Let Me In. The list goes on. 

Why are you doing this?

The Speak No Evil trailer arrived around the same time as the news that Blumhouse is set to reimagine one of the greatest horrors of the 20th century: The Blair Witch Project. While this is not a foreign film reboot, nor does the project sound like a shot-for-shot copy, it’s still indicative of Hollywood studios’ increasing reliance on established, recognizable properties rather than taking risks on fresh, innovative ideas.

Don’t get me wrong — Speak No Evil (the new one) does look terrifying, and McAvoy and Davis rarely miss. And in a landscape where streaming rules and attention spans wane, the blame can’t fully be placed on the studios. 

But in this particular instance, Blumhouse has already managed to grind our collective gears by revealing the twist in its trailer. And a lot of the original’s dialogue is in English, meaning the language barrier can’t be used as an excuse. It seems all we can really do is wait to see if the remake brings anything new to the table. And if it doesn’t Hollywood, then I have to ask: Why are you doing this?

Speak No Evil (the original) is available to stream on Shudder, while the 2024 remake is coming to cinemas on September 13. Until then, check out all of the best new movies hitting streaming this month, as well as the new TV shows to add to your watchlist.

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