• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

TALK TO ME – One of the year’s finest horror experiences on the big screen!

ByTaylor T Carlson

Jul 28, 2023

TALK TO ME is directed by Danny and Michael Philippou; it’s their feature film directorial debut. The movie stars Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, and Miranda Otto.

In Australia, a group of teens experiments with a mysterious fad of utilizing an embalmed hand and candlelight to talk to and be temporarily controlled by spirits from beyond the grave. While this occurrence seems like a harmful enough party activity, it isn’t long before strange goings-on begin happening, often with unpleasant and violent outcomes. When Mia, a young lady who lost her mother to an apparent overdose, sees the spirit of her deceased parent, her actions have disastrous consequences. What will the eventual outcome of these hauntings be, and what price will be paid?

It’s getting increasingly difficult to come up with fresh ideas for horror movies. It seems like a genre that’s largely tapped out, with many installments too reliant on jump scares and rehashed concepts. Several movies unintentionally borderline on parody and camp. I can’t say I came into TALK TO ME with the highest of expectations; I was expecting a poor man’s version of THE EXORCIST. What I walked away from, however, was one of the most surprising cinematic experiences I’ve had all year, with some genuine haunting moments, and perhaps even more surprising, genuine drama among family and friends.

TALK TO ME doesn’t waste any time getting its audience’s attention, with two rather brutal moments in its first few minutes, setting the stage of things to come. Throughout its duration, the movie keeps the viewer on edge, earning its R rating and then some. The running time is only about an hour and a half without credits, making the pacing quite brisk, which is a welcomed change from films that drag on well past the two-hour mark and outstay their welcome. According to Wikipedia, the movie was made on a budget of under $5 million, yet this movie retained my attention and won my respect far more than those with budgets considerably higher. Filmmakers Danny and Michael Philippou know how best to utilize what they have to work with, and it shows in every single frame of TALK TO ME. The reliance on practical effects versus CGI is certainly welcome.

The thing about TALK TO ME that surprised this cinephile most of all, surprisingly, was the level of human drama on display. Mia, portrayed by Sophie Wilde, owns the screen every time she appears on it. This is a beautiful and fragile young lady haunted by a family tragedy, and when her actions reaching out to her deceased mother have disastrous and violent consequences for the people she’s closest with, the repercussions feel believable and genuine, both supernatural and otherwise. The circle of friends and family members in the movie is completely believable, and the Australian setting makes for something far removed from the generic locales of most American movies. The movie also proves itself an effective commentary on our modern social media/smartphone culture, as any viewer will see for themselves. Releases from A24 rarely disappoint, and I’m happy to say that TALK TO ME is a triumph in equal parts at both its scariest and its most human.

While there are more hits than misses here, some moments in the movie unfortunately don’t quite land. The third act has some of the most haunting and violent moments I’ve seen in horror in recent years (and believe me, the AMC Stubs screening I saw this at had some loud and obnoxious reactions from the non-critic viewers), and the ending hits hard in the best way. But these moments also sacrifice narrative structure for shock value, making it increasingly unclear as to what is going on. I don’t need a movie to, pardon the bad joke, talk to me all the way through, but the third act does become quite jumbled and rushed. It’s perhaps the one place TALK TO ME could’ve used some more breathing room and development. The images I saw on screen will haunt me forever… but damned if I’ll be able to channel them into something coherent in my mind (but hey, an excuse to rewatch it, right?) Still, the good outweighs the bad. Horror fans are in for one of the best experiences they’ll see on the big screen all year, provided they’re not squeamish and can handle the disturbing R-rated visuals.

TALK TO ME is everything a modern horror movie should be, giving shocking and violent visuals, a haunting mood, and perhaps more importantly, characters I actually gave a damn about (the latter is increasingly rare in scary movies these days, it would seem). Some elements, including the third act, could’ve used a little more development and structure, but A24 has another winner on their hands. Highly recommended!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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