James McAvoy as Paddy and Aisling Franciosi as Ciara in Speak No Evil

James McAvoy Channels His Sinister Side for ‘Speak No Evil’

James McAvoy is tapping into his sinister side again in Universal Pictures’ Speak No Evil. Here’s everything we know about the psychological horror-thriller film so far.

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While McAvoy gained recognition for playing the younger version of the superhero Charles Xavier/Profession X in the X-Men prequel films, he also clearly has a knack for playing the villain. He delivered one of his strongest performances in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, where he played a man with disassociative identity disorder (DID). McAvoy proved that he could be genuinely terrifying as he switched between 24 identities, including one referred to as The Beast. So it’s quite exciting that he’s taking up another sinister role in Speak No Evil.

The Blumhouse film is a remake of the 2022 Danish film of the same name. James Watkins (The Woman in Black, Eden Lake) has been tapped to write and direct Speak No Evil. It’s not surprising that Blumhouse and Universal would be interested in a remake, considering the Danish film received high praise and several accolades for its satirical elements and frightening premise.

Universal Pictures drops the first trailer for Speak No Evil

Universal Pictures dropped the first trailer for Speak No Evil on April 10. The horror movie is set to release theatrically on September 13.

The trailer starts innocently enough, with an American family, the Daltons, meeting and befriending a British couple, Paddy and Ciara, and their son Ant, while on vacation. They all become close friends, and it’s not long before the Daltons are invited to visit and stay with Paddy and Ciara. However, things take an awkward turn when Paddy suddenly forces Louise Dalton to eat a bite of meat despite her protesting that she is a vegetarian. Viewers can see the Dalton family’s ease and trust diminishing with every rude joke or bizarre comment Paddy and Ciara make. Unfortunately, by the time things turn outright abusive and potentially lethal, it may be too late for the Daltons to leave.

McAvoy leads Speak No Evil as Paddy. At first, Paddy appears to be a charming family man and doctor, but he is clearly hiding some abusive and sadistic tendencies. Starring opposite McAvoy as Paddy’s wife Ciara is Aisling Franciosi, who is best known for starring in Legends and Black Narcissus. She’s arguably more frightening than Paddy in the trailer, as she seems to be all in on his sinister schemes but better able to mask her evil. Station Eleven star Mackenzie Davis will portray the Dalton family matriarch, Louise, while Halt and Catch Fire‘s Scoot McNairy portrays Louise’s husband, Ben. Child star Alix West Lefler portrays the Daltons’ daughter, Agnes, while Dan Hough stars as Paddy and Ciara’s mute son, Ant.

The official synopsis for Speak No Evil reads:

When an American family is invited to spend the weekend at the idyllic country estate of a charming British family they befriended on vacation, what begins as a dream holiday soon warps into a snarled psychological nightmare.

Based on the trailer, cast, and strong source material, Speak No Evil has the potential to be quite an intense horror movie. However, it remains to be seen if it will grasp the theme of the original Danish film. The original was so frightening because it focused on the dangers of ignoring one’s intuition and not taking action when one witnesses abuse. The film sidesteps typical horror clichés by leaning into the satire. Speak No Evil delves into the dangers of societal expectations of politeness and minding one’s own business, making for a timely and terrifying film.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)


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Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.