By Jason Delgado
Independent horror films have been going through a renaissance period as of late, perhaps inspired by the isolation we all felt during the pandemic lockdown. Indie movies like Barbarian, X, and Pearl have all been exceptional, so is A24’s latest movie Talk to Me on par with those? In a word, yes.
This Australian production by newcomer twin brother directors Danny and Michael Philippou (who made a name for themselves on YouTube) is a supernatural cautionary tale that is exhilarating, and emotionally charged. The story is about a group of teenagers who, through the use of a demonic looking embalmed hand, are able to conjure spirits into themselves for ninety seconds at a time, as a sick and twisted party game. Needless to say, things get out of hand, and the genie is let out of the bottle so to speak.
The main characters are Aussie teen friends Mia (Sophie Wilde), Jade (Alexandra Jensen), and Jade’s younger brother Riley (Joe Bird) who are sucked into the “game” out of peer pressure and curiosity. Someone has to grab the hand, while they’re strapped into a chair for safety, and say the words “I let you in.” Those are the magic words that let the dead person that they spookily see while touching the hand, into their own body, causing convulsions and choking. The other teens looking on in the party atmosphere think this is hilarious, as they whip out their phones to catch the reactions.
The concept and execution are both top-notch, making Talk to Me an idea that is ripe for sequels. The emotional core of the film is when Mia’s dead mother starts talking to her through Riley, and later comes to her in visions, telling her to do dastardly things. Mia kept the spirit in Riley for longer than ninety seconds, which if you know anything about horror movies, it’s never a good idea to break the rules. Riley is changed by this and bashes his head in every chance that he gets after that and acts like a demented soul that the Evil Dead has possessed.
I love this group of Australian newcomers, all seemingly on the rise like the young actors from the original Scream. Sophie Wilde shows range as an innocent person dealing with trauma, who changes to a woman obsessed with her dead mother and will do anything to keep her around. Riley is also fantastic at going from a sweet, sensitive boy to being frightening in his own right.
Talk to Me is an instant horror classic that should be seen by all fans of the genre. The story, the creepy scares, the acting, and the directing are all done at a high level to keep you invested. The film feels like it could be so realistic that it’s terrifying. The twist ending sets up even more of these movies, and I can’t wait.
I give Talk to Me four and a half hot sauce packets out of five. It’s so hot that you will see dead people.