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Talk To Me

On the surface, A24's Talk To Me is a teen horror film ready to make you jump with fright, but this Australian horror flick has more on its mind than just jump scares. In fact, I have a hard time recounting any real jump scares in the film as director brothers Danny and Michael Philippou are more focused on making your skin crawl and they excel at that in spades.

Mia is still recovering from the death of her mother and she talks her best friend, along with her best friend's little brother and boyfriend into going to a party to try this new internet trend that many think is a hoax. The trend involves touching a severed and embalmed hand and speaking the lines "Talk to me...I let you in." What comes next is the thrill of being possessed for a short period of time. But, as with all things supernatural, sometimes those dead spirits tend to hang around a bit longer than they should.

At times gnarly and shocking, Talk to Me is a breath of fresh air in a very familiar possession subgenre. It's smarter, better looking, and more original than its contemporaries. Those expecting another Smile, with the constant jump scares will most likely be disappointed. Talk to Me will have your heart racing and the constant dialogue running through your head..."Don't touch the damn hand!!!"

The Philippou brothers clearly have some talent and a keen eye for the visual horror flair that makes the film separate itself from the pack. The talent doesn't stop behind the camera, in front of the camera is Sophie Wilde, who plays Mia. Wilde has the difficult task of playing a character we need to sympathize with while the deterioration of touching the hand tears away at who she is. As the film progresses we understand that maybe we can't trust what she sees anymore and thus she becomes a liability. Who would pass up the opportunity to talk to a loved one if the chance were to arise? Dealing with grief is a key theme here as is the juggling of teenage behaviour. Would I trust my kids at a party not to do dumb shit? Nope.

I can't go on without discussing the sound design. The Philippou brothers use auditory cues to clue the audience into the sequences where she sees the dead without the hand. It plays perfectly for inner character turmoil as we realize what those sounds are and it walks the perfect line of being just eerily uncomfortable enough to make you squirm.

The violence is small but packs a punch. When it hits, it hits a visceral level of uncomfortableness. Is it scary? I can see some people being freaked out, but my screening had a child no older than 6 in it. I didn't hear him cry once the entire time. Great parenting skills whoever that guy was...

Talk to Me is an excellent debut from two young talented filmmakers and I eagerly await more films from them. And hey...if the film is a success maybe we get a prequel and see who the hell that hand belongs to.