Where would horror movies be as a genre without teenagers making dumb choices about fooling around with the occult? We certainly wouldn’t have TALK TO ME, the new A24 film about how grasping an embalmed hand (ick!) and uttering a couple of incantations can pierce the veil between our world and the shadow world. Australian horror is a robust genre, including classics like PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975), THE BABADOOK (2014), and WAKE IN FRIGHT (1971). You can now add the new film TALK TO ME to that list.
This smart new entry into the pantheon of Australian horror is the directorial debut of 30-year-old Australian twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou, also known as the brothers run the popular RackaRacka YouTube channel. The film is far better than it needs to be given that the premise would be enough to lure theater goers into seats.
TALK TO ME starts with A Bad Thing happening with a knife, with no explanation of why and/or how it ties into the larger storyline. Soon, we meet a crew of teenagers with complex interpersonal relationships, too much time on their hands and access to the aforementioned embalmed hand, a hard that allegedly once belonged to a medium.
The teens making the bad choices are Jade (Alexandra Jensen) and her younger brother Riley (Joe Bird) who have their sibling differences. They are often joined by her best friend Mia (Sophie Wilde) who spends a lot of time with them after her mother’s death. Mia and her father Max (Marcus Johnson) aren’t getting on too well since her mother died.
Then there’s the hand. It’s small enough to be carried around in a backpack yet powerful enough to make you see dead people. When someone wants to use the hand to contact the other side, the first thing that happens is that they are restrained, often by Joss (Chris Alosio).
When you light the candle to open the portal, then grasp the hand, and say “Talk to Me” there is no telling who you will see. It might be someone you know. And if you whisper the phrase, “I let you in” the spirit will possess your body and the other people in the room can talk to them. But be careful, if you let the spirits possess a person for more than 90 seconds in, then the spirit realm has squatters rights to the body.
In a twist from other accounts of the paranormal, in TALK TO ME having the spirit inhabit your body is both an addictive high for most, but potentially deadly for others…much like many other addictive substances. As you might can guess when dealing with dark forces and conjuring past curfew, things are trickier than they first appear. Then again, would you expect things to be right when the underaged are dabbling in the occult while drinking and filming themselves as they are chasing social media cool?
Wilde and Bird give truly standout performances that really bring the magic and mayhem to this morbid film.
TALK TO ME is now playing in theatres. This also premiered at 2023’s South By Southwest Film & TV, where Jason Whyte also reacted to the movie from the premiere.