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Fantasia Film Festival Review: Don’t Say Its Name

Don’t Say Its Name has some great messages in it, and some freaky moments, but how does it deliver overall?

dont say its name

Don’t say Its Name is a thriller that does a great job of also having a deeper meaning. Unfortunately, it does have some issues that can take the viewer out of the experience. As with most lower budget movies, the effects are not the greatest. Sometimes this can be overlooked in Don’t Say Its Name, but not always. That said, the length is perfect, not too long, not too short, and the twist ending makes this one worth a watch!

In Don’t Say Its Name a mining company WEC has been given approval to drill on the tribal land of a small Indigenous community. Local activist Kharis Redwater is protesting when she is killed in a hit and run accident. That is just the beginning of the murders in town, as someone — or some thing — is on a killing spree and it is up to local peace officer Mary Stonechild (Madison Walsh) and Park Ranger Stacey Cole (Sera-Lys McArthur) to figure out who.

dont say its name

What Works With Don’t Say Its Name

Without giving spoilers, the best part about this movie is the twist at the end. Sure, it is a little bit predictable as you get close, but it still totally delivers and will shock most viewers. Thriller type films like this usually have a twist, so that is not unique, however it is done really well and by far the standout of the film.

It is sometimes hard to get important lessons across in films, especially in this genre, however Don’t Say Its Name does a fantastic job of delivering them. There are messages about respecting the environment, about not disturbing sacred land, and about not pushing out Indigenous people. It isn’t even subtly done, it is in your face but still works perfectly. 

The cinematography is decent throughout, and really excels during the attacks. One in particular that should be called out is toward the end — a chase scene that is sure to have the audience on the edge of their seat. It is intense, and truly works.

What Doesn’t Work With Don’t Say Its Name

As with most indie & low budget films, the effects are not the greatest. They try with the blood and gore in this one, but unfortunately it just looks cheesy for the most part. One kill in particular isn’t done well, and even caused some laughter — which is not a good thing. 

However, the “big bad” at the end looks alright, and actually really good during the quick flashes, and that is impressive. If the movie had stuck to never focusing on that character too long, it would have worked much better though and the makeup can be picked apart when it is focused on.

Overall Thoughts

Don’t Say Its Name is a fun thriller that, while predictable, does deliver a decent twist. The effects and makeup are not the best, but they work for what they are trying to do. What is most impressive is that this movie gives an intense mystery while also sticking in some important lessons about respecting the environment.

dont say its name poster

About Don’t Say Its Name

The small, snow-covered Indigenous community is about to see an upturn. Mining company WEC has just made an agreement for drilling on this tribal land, and it’s looking like everyone will benefit – except the land itself. Local activist Kharis Redwater is one of those protesting the deal when her voice is silenced in a hit-and-run that remains unsolved.

So as WEC begins their assault on the land, the land itself retaliates against WEC and all those who support it. But for local peace officer Mary Stonechild (Madison Walsh) and Park Ranger Stacey Cole (Sera-Lys McArthur), the answer to this mystery lies in the traditions of their people and the vengeance-filled spirits that have haunted the land for generations, about which the people know one rule: don’t say its name.

Don’t Say Its Name played at the Fantasia Film Festival and releases publicly October 29th.