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Film Review: “Talk to Me” Impresses

Written by: Matt Patti | July 26th, 2023

Film review: “Talk to Me”

Talk to Me (Danny Philippou/Michael Philippou, 2022) 3 out of 4 stars.

A24’s newest horror release, Talk to Me, is an Australian film directed by brothers Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou (also known as Racka Racka). When I first saw the trailers circulating, I thought it looked like a run-of-the-mill possession flick. Then I remembered it was A24, and if their previous horror installments are any indication, Talk to Me would be a definite must-see. I can happily report that they have struck cinematic gold again.

Talk to Me involves a group of friends who find a severed hand that has the power to conjure spirits and act as a conduit for possession when certain parameters are followed. When Mia (Sophie Wilde, The Portable Door), a girl with a troubled past, first experiences the ritual, she can’t get enough. Mia’s best friend, Jade (Alexandra Jensen, Beat), is not a fan of the practice, though, forbidding her younger brother Riley from participating.

Sophie Wilde in TALK TO ME ©A24

The process begins with a person sitting in front of the hand. Then, a candle is lit, and the person grasps the hand as if to shake hand it. Finally, they say “talk to me” and a spirit appears in front of them. However, the abilities of the hand don’t stop there. To take it one step further, the person grasping the hand can say “I let you in,” and the ghost will enter their body almost immediately.

The group is careful to let the spirit remain in the body for no more than 90 seconds; were it to stay longer then it might not leave.  When Jade exits the room during a session one night, Mia allows Riley to experience the sensation she felt. Sadly, the practice goes wrong on Riley, and the being does not leave his body. Now, Mia and Jade must discover how to free Riley of his parasite.

Zoe Terakes in TALK TO ME. Credit: Andre Castellucci ©A24

Talk to Me does so many things right, but we’ll start with the protagonists. The film contains quality performances all around, from our main players to the supporting cast. They are assisted by the script writers who present layered, intriguing characters that you want to root for. The dialogue in the film feels natural, and there is exceptional chemistry between the group of friends.

The real showstopper of Talk to Me is its ability to hold the viewer in suspense for long periods of time. The film starts slowly to give us plenty of time with the characters. Then, from the end of the first act to the finale, the audience is not only invested, but on the edge of their seat with anticipation, as wild elements are introduced and a few surprises come along to bring a bad situation into total chaos.

Joe Bird in TALK TO ME. Credit: Matthew Thorne ©A24

You won’t find many jump scares in Talk to Me, but you will experience some brutal, insanely gruesome scenes that will have folks cringing in disgust. However, when these set pieces conclude, the tension doesn’t slip away into oblivion as in so many other horror films. It’s still there, even more amplified. The writers refuse to let the audience go.

Talk to Me is not all about the horror and suspense, however. It contains some appropriate humor that is used sparingly and actually contributes to our opinions of the characters. There are also plenty of emotion-provoking moments and devastating situations that arise to further connect us to the group of friends and, specifically, Mia.

Sophie Wilde in TALK TO ME. Credit: Matthew Thorne ©A24

Although the specific plot of Talk to Me is unique, it still borrows from other films, including in one specific shot that I swear is an exact replica of one I’ve seen before in another beloved horror movie. It’s a familiar premise at its core, but the filmmakers do their best to inject fresh new life into it by taking certain things in a novel direction. There are some elements in the third act that are quite predictable, but it doesn’t detract from an otherwise quality experience.

Overall, Talk to Me is an impressive modern horror film that takes a bit from the classics but also adds so much more. With compelling characters, sustained suspense, and some deeper themes, it has all the ingredients to cook up a surprisingly fantastic possession narrative. I think horror aficionados and general audiences alike will enjoy it and will have plenty to talk about.

Still from TALK TO ME ©A24

Matt Patti has enjoyed voicing his opinions on films from a young age. He has lived in the Baltimore, Maryland, area since 2015 and is a graduate of Stevenson University’s Film & Moving Image program. Matt is currently back at Stevenson University, working as the School of Design, Arts, and Communication's Studio Manager.

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