Talk to Me Movie Review

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September 30, 2023

Talk to Me, the debut feature from Australian twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou (as RackaRacka), wisely tones down the manic clickbait silliness of its YouTube origins. The result is a tense, well-crafted thriller with plenty of chills and an intriguing exploration of the ways grief can open teens up to predatory forces from beyond the grave.

Synopsis

The new horror movie Talk to Me from A24 is a smartly directed and gruesomely spooky tale about the afterlife, spiritual possession, and grief. Australian director brothers Danny and Michael Philippou (who make up the directing duo RackaRacka) elevate this thriller above cheap thrills by delving into deeper, more harrowing themes like loneliness and loss of control.

The film stars Sophie Wilde as Mia, a teenager mourning the death of her mother. She finds solace in her best friend Jade’s (Alexandra Jensen) family, which includes a younger brother Riley (Joe Bird) and their mother Sue (Miranda Otto).

One night at a house party, Jade and their friends produce a mysterious severed hand that can summon spirits when touched and say the magic words “Talk to me.” This dangerous game takes a turn for the worse, as malevolent ghosts take control of their hosts with shocking consequences. This frightful new horror movie is not only terrifying but also emotionally grounded with strong performances from its young cast.

The Story

After the death of her mother, Mia (Sophie Wilde) turns to a group of friends with a notorious reputation for viral videos in which they shake an embalmed hand and say “talk to me” to commune with spirits. The catch is that the spirit must be broken within 90 seconds or else it will want to stay.

Talk to Me is a twisty, spooky thriller with higher-than-usual psychological stakes and able performances from its young cast. Its depiction of a tech-dependent teen’s isolation and posturing feels timely and fresh. The gnula film also reveals how quickly a desire to escape reality can bring ruin to those still in it.

Featuring in-your-face scares, a grotesquely layered soundtrack, and a disturbing premise that posits spirits as parasites that derive pleasure from possessing humans to torment them and consume their souls before they move on, Talk to Me is a genuinely unnerving and heartbreaking horror movie. It marks a strong debut for Wilde, who could join the ranks of breakout stars like Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver as horror icons with long and storied careers.

Scary Scenes

The movie makes good use of the dread and vulnerability associated with grief and longing. It also shows how social media and peer pressure can push kids to take risks they shouldn’t.

The Philippous twins, who made their name on YouTube as pranksters, sensibly tone down the manic clickbait silliness of their videos for their first feature, but Talk to Me still delivers plenty of creepy, shocking and mind-bending thrills. The film’s resistance to rote jump-scares and sleek visual aesthetic, along with the solid performances of Wilde and Bird (who also co-wrote the screenplay), make it a step above the average recent horror entry.

Parents should note that the film contains a lot of violence including a few scenes of gory violence, perverse behavior, gruesome images, fleeting profanities and some rough and crude language. It also depicts a dog being bitten and a girl being possessed by an amorous spirit that sucks the feet of her sleeping friend.

Overall

While the premise isn’t exactly original, Talk to Me is a welcome addition to the genre thanks to its strong performances and willingness to take the story to the edge. Especially when the film is at its most brutal, notably in a scene depicting a brother’s murderous act of demonic rage, it has the potential to be truly creepy, shocking and mind-bending.

Aussie twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou (who cut their teeth on the prank-oriented YouTube channel RackaRacka) have toned down the manic clickbait silliness for their directorial debut, allowing their characters’ deepest fears to serve as predatory invitations to supernatural horrors. Enhanced by the eerie blend of gliding calm and shrieking horror by cinematographer Aaron McLisky, Talk to Me delivers some serious scares.

Sophie Wilde and Joe Bird lead a cast of solid players in this spooky, social media-inspired horror story that raises the stakes by highlighting the real-life consequences of reckless, impulsive choices. A promising feature debut for the siblings.

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