Talk to Me
The feature-length directorial debut of Danny and Michael Phillipou, who also run the horror YouTube channel RackaRacka, Talk to Me follows Mia (Sophie Wilde), a young woman who finds herself caught up in an unusual new fad: using an embalmed hand as a conduit to the other side and willingly allowing brief possession sessions, which happens to provide both an exhilarating high and some funny videos for social media. Reeling from the death of her mother and eager for validation from her peers, Mia dives headfirst into the hand’s thrills, but things inevitably get taken too far, breaking down the barrier between the living and the dead with potentially deadly (and definitely grisly) results.
Talk to Me is ambitious, exploring multi-faceted ideas of grief, trauma and family, as well as moving from intense emotional moments to raw, visceral horror and solid comedy throughout. It’s a testament to the storytelling chops of the Phillipous that the film balances these various ideas and tones without overwhelming itself, taking its audience on a thrilling and constantly engaging ride.
However, the script is scrappy in places. Many characters feel like they don’t get much room to engage with the underlying themes, and some parts of the narrative aren’t examined as much as they could have been, creating a vague sense that some thematic meat was left on the table. These issues don’t detract from the otherwise excellent experience though, and the core story is solid enough that, while more depth would have been appreciated, its absence isn’t necessarily mourned.
One area where the film certainly doesn’t slouch is its visuals, which pick up the weaker parts of the script and give the piece a distinctive visual identity. The flick’s creative camera work works with the haunting, atmospheric sound design to create a constant sense of tension, with neat tricks to communicate the unnatural convergence of life and afterlife. There’s also a fair share of pretty gnarly, gory scenes, which serve the messages of the film but are also telegraphed generously to give more squeamish viewers just enough time to cover their eyes.
Talk to Me is a strong debut for the Phillipou brothers, demonstrating a keen directorial eye and effective character work. There are definitely areas to improve on going forward, particularly with overall narrative cohesion, but the enthusiasm and inventiveness on display here is more than enough to balance out a slightly messy script.
Talk to Me is released nationwide on 28th July 2023.
Watch the trailer for Talk to Me here: