Talk to Me
July 25th, 2023
MOVIE: TALK TO ME
STARRING: SOPHIE WILDE, ALEXANDRA JENSEN, MIRANDA OTTO, ZOE TERAKES
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
In the circles of horror cinema, it seems more and more that originality is key. The genre itself has always been the most original to start with. Yes, there is Freddy and Jason Voorhies, Chucky and Pinhead, but for each installment into a classic horror franchise, a movie comes along like Talk to Me. The Australian team of Danny and Michael Philippou have brought their energy and style to audiences with their original take on a seance and possession story. It involves a group of teenagers that have stumbled upon an item that connects them to the dead. Kids just being kids and getting into mischief but when the ghosts inside start taking over the fun comes to a stop. Talk to Me quickly becomes frightening, with a brand of horror that blends the terrifying with real-life trauma, in a sure-handed feature debut that catches the audience instantly.
The lead character is Mia (Sophie Wilde delivering stellar work), an 18-year-old, only daughter who unfortunately lost her mother a few years ago from suicide. Her surrogate family has become Jade (Alexandra Jensen), her brother Riley (Joe Bird), and their mother Sue (Miranda Otto). With the three teens, the phrase kids will be kids comes to mind, where their friend Hayley (Zoe Terakes) has been posting TikTok videos of parties with teens drinking and being possessed by some sort of entity, so naturally Mia and company want to get in on the fun.
What’s the fun, you ask? It involves a mold of a hand, where someone is strapped to a chair, holds the hand, and utters the words “Talk to Me” followed by “I let you in”. It’s here where a soul or demon possesses the person in the seat. This is of course all fun until innocent Riley gives it a go and the entity inside him truly takes over. The spirit causes him to do painful harm to himself, in a way that is shocking, and downright terrifying. First, it starts with Riley and then Mia starts to see things, have visions, and is contacted by the spirit of her own mother. And it’s not just cute ghosts like Casper. These are the kinds of gloopy visions of the dead that seer into your brain.
The screenplay is co-written by Danny Philippou and Bill Hinzman and does a magnificent job of balancing the horror with the fears we carry within ourselves. The performance from Wilde starts simple and grows increasingly powerful, playing a character that carries much guilt on her shoulders, and it is her guilt that makes her the easy prey. The premise alone is reminiscent of films such as Hellraiser or recently Smile, as the subject matter focuses less on jump scares or gore, but instead on the shock of seeing a person innocently attacked by darkness that lurks underneath us.
Much of the success of Talk to Me also comes from the sheer energy and fearless directing by the Philippou brothers. A montage scene midway through, where the group is gathered in a circle, laughing, recording, and feeling the rush of the possession has the energy of a party when the parents are out of town, something I think many can relate with. The wreckless joy on their faces and the temptation of fate turns the tension higher and audiences won’t be prepared for how Talk to Me decides to shock.
Talk to Me is a spectacularly shocking piece of horror cinema. It takes hold of you early and becomes hard to shake. It’s the unique kind of horror that is worthy of multiple views, especially with its darker themes of life and death and becomes more than just a series of cheap thrills. I saw it once at SXSW, once again recently and what’s confirmed is that this is spectacularly dark and disturbing stuff. Danny and Michael Philippou have made a movie that will have horror fans talking. Just take them by the hand and trust that you will be scared.
TALK TO ME IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS FRIDAY JULY 28TH, 2023.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady