Talk to Me

So many filmmakers have their breakouts in the horror genre. Deliver something refreshing for scary movie fans on a low budget, and that creates a must-see, word-of-mouth reaction.

The Philippou Brothers (Danny and Michael) from Australia have accomplished just that with their directorial debut “Talk to Me.” It’s bare bones, an original concept, and focuses on practical effects and a solid script. The newbie directors also get kudos for directing their young actors. The “talk to the hand” jokes will be short-lived once the film gets going. However, talking to a hand to conjure the dead is the basic premise behind the movie.

Viral videos of teenagers taking turns grabbing a porcelain hand and appearing possessed have high school friends Jade (Alexandra Jensen) and Mia (Sophie Wilde) skeptical. At a party, Mia volunteers to play along; she gets in the hot seat, grabs the hand, and experiences something she can’t explain while strapped in. The duo who attained the hand and latest party trick explains that you can’t stay connected for more than 90 seconds. Mia, who recently lost her mother, is eager to use the hand for personal reasons. Jade’s little brother Riley (Joe Bird), watching all the older children do it, also wants the experience. The teenagers treat this otherworldly and dangerous connection to the other side like a drug, becoming an addiction that spirals out of control.

Sophie Wilde is a bit fantastic, and this is quite the film debut.

The Philippou brothers combine the dangerous YouTube challenges with elements found in conjuring movie plots and throw in a bit of “Hereditary” to create an unsettling horror experience. “Talk to Me” doesn’t have the budget or cinematic artistry Ari Aster brought to “Hereditary” or “Midsommar.” Still, you can feel his influence throughout the film. Sophie Wilde is a bit fantastic, and this is quite the film debut. The character of Mia allows her to explore an abundance of emotions that run the gamut of extremes. Unfortunately, another similarity to “Hereditary” is the weak ending. The Philippou brothers go off the rails with a conclusion that doesn’t mirror the energy or creativity seen elsewhere in the film.

Low expectations and good word of mouth should have this little horror film doing some decent business. The brothers don’t push the envelope as much or grotesquely as Aster did. You won’t have nightmares or need holy water after the credits. They do implore clever editing techniques and shy away from lazy jump scares. They don’t need the usual American horror tropes to fill the running time. They have designed something more organically scary and engaging to watch. “The Lord of the Rings” Miranda Otto, playing Jade and Riley’s mother, is another well-written character outside the genre norm.

Final Thought

“Talk to Me” will leave audiences talking about its original horror movie concept and genuine scares.


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