14 June 2024
Talk to me coming to UK on 28th July

Film Review – Talk To Me (2022)

Talk To Me will be in UK Cinemas 28th July from Altitude Films
We’ve probably all done it. Got together with some friends to dabble in the supernatural, courtesy of a Ouija board or similar. That’s essentially the idea driving Michael and Danny Philippou’s feature debut, Talk To Me, a slow burn horror with the TikTok generation in its sights.

The self-confessed horror fans from Australia came to filmmaking via their wildly successful YouTube channel, RakkaRakka and along the way were part of the crew for their home country’s best-known horror, The Babadook. The experience has clearly stayed with them in the best possible sense. The increasingly disturbing events all start with an inexplicable and bloody suicide at a party. A subsequent get-together, with much the same guests, sees Mia (Sophie Wilde) and her surrogate younger brother Riley (Joe Bird) tag along, but the reason everybody’s there isn’t the usual combo of sex, drugs and drink. A severed hand, embalmed, encased in ceramic and apparently from a powerful medium, allows anybody who dares to contact the dead with the phrase “Talk to me.” “I let you in” results in full possession which can only last for 90 seconds, so that the supernatural being doesn’t stay around for good. It’s not long before somebody goes over the limit.

The possessions are the latest thing on social media – each one is surrounded by the lights from multiple camera phones. They’re the foundation of the film and where it’s at its most absorbing. The Philippous don’t go in for jump scares: instead, they concentrate on escalating creepiness, punctuated with unsettling details: the possessed all have huge, pitch black eyes, as devoid of life and feeling as you can get. If the film’s trying to say something about youth culture, it doesn’t go too deep, but the discomfort that goes with those possession scenes is more than compensation.

Aside from the thrills, Talk To Me impresses on other levels. The eye-catching camera work leading up to the suicide in the opening sequence tracks through a packed party, following a young man shouting in an attempt to find his brother. His voice is nearly drowned out by the thudding music, at which point you’ve started holding on to your seat and you’re unlikely to let go. Sound is clearly a crucial element in the Philippou landscape with some deliciously creepy sound design and a powerful score from Cornel Wilczek. The conclusion of the story may be overly frantic, but the film keeps a firm grip on its underlying themes of grief and guilt. Yet again, horror proves itself to be the most flexible of genres for examining so many issues.

With the exception of The Babadook, Australia isn’t usually seen as a home of great horror, opting for gritty thrillers and modern westerns instead. But Michael and Danny Philippou look set to change all that with their mix of pop culture and good old fashioned scares. And we say bring it on!

★★★1/2

Horror | Australia, 2023 | 15 | Cinema | 28th July 2023 (UK) | Altitude Films | Dir: Michael and Danny Philippou | Sophie Wilde, Joe Bird, Alexandra Jensen, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, Zoe Terakes, Chris Alosio, Marcus Johnson

This review is a repost of our Sundance London 2023 review | original review can be found here.


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