A24 has an impressive collection of horror movies to their name: Hereditary, Midsommar, and X to name a few. Now, thanks to a successful bidding war against Universal Studios, it has another – Australian supernatural horror Talk To Me.
The film begins with the death of two brothers at a house party, which sets the stage for the themes of sibling relationships and adulthood that the film goes on to explore. The next 90 minutes follow the journey of an embalmed hand, which can be used to communicate with the dead. The artefact is passed around at parties and kickbacks, with teenagers urging each other to let themselves be possessed by a spirit, as long as they don’t do it for more than 90 seconds.
Protagonist Mia, played by Sophie Wilde, becomes obsessed with being able to talk to spirits once she realises her best friend’s brother has briefly opened up a line of communication between her and her mother, who took her life two years prior. The film plays with the question that most people who have lost loved ones wonder: what if I could speak to them one last time? Grief is shown not as a passing feeling, but as a powerful force that drives Mia to make rash decisions while harming those around her. Her quest to talk to her mother consumes her, much like an addiction, while the audience worries for her safety and the safety of her friends and family.
The film plays with the question that most people who have lost loved ones wonder: what if I could speak to them one last time?
There is a deep exploration of sibling relationships, which makes sense given that the film was directed by twins, Danny and Michael Philippou. Another constant throughout the film is the presence of phones – the teenagers are constantly filming each other’s reactions to being possessed or finding videos of others being possessed on Snapchat. In one cringe-inducing scene, a boy begs his friends to delete the video of him making out with a pet dog while possessed. Whereas other horror films focusing on modern technology can often feel forced and unrealistic, the inclusion of social media feels natural and fitting. This also comes as no surprise, as the Philippou twins run a successful YouTube account. As their directorial debut, the film has been very successful, with a sequel already announced by A24.
Horror fans are guaranteed to enjoy Talk To Me, with haunting and suspenseful visuals, snappy pace and fantastic performances by a great ensemble of young actors. The film isn’t for the easily scared or squeamish, as it doesn’t shy away from violence, but it is unsettling and raw, and worth the watch as a fresh alternative to old cult horror movies as Halloween approaches.