Talk to Me (2023)

Talk to Me (2023)

A chilling and brutal horror film that examines grief and trauma in an original way



Australia, United Kingdom
English, French, Greek
Horror, Thriller
Alexandra Jensen, Alexandria Steffensen, Ari McCarthy
95 min


Every time you think this insane horror movie is being unrealistic, you remember that kids were eating Tide Pods a few years ago.

What it's about

Feeling isolated since the death of her mother two years earlier, a teenage girl participates in a party game that involves calling on spirits through an embalmed severed hand.

The take

The directorial debut of Australian twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou—more popularly known together as the YouTube creators RackaRacka—Talk to Me finds a surprisingly unique way of exploring themes that contemporary horror films have made commonplace. At its heart this is still a movie about one's inability to come to terms with loss, but the emotions that come with this experience are filtered through suburban ennui and the numbing effect that social media has on depictions of tragedy. It's in this specific milieu where Mia (a terrific Sophie Wilde) feels compelled to act irresponsibly and continue inviting a malevolent presence into her life. Her feelings are real, but because her peers and the adults around her aren't the best at being vulnerable, Mia begins to underestimate how destructive her grief really is.

Talk to Me only grows more despairing the longer it goes. But impressively, the film doesn't rely on the usual jump scares and excesses that would normally make a YouTube horror short go viral. The situations escalate organically (if you can suspend a little disbelief for the moments when the characters simply watch terrible things happen) and as the supernatural forces haunting these teenagers get stronger, so do Mia's isolation and her desperation to make up for her mistakes. It's bleak stuff, but sharp direction and great performances (especially from Wilde and young Joe Bird) make this a particularly exciting vision of horror.

What stands out

It might sound like a small thing, but Talk to Me features some truly world-class makeup effects—especially impressive for a film with a small $4.5-million budget. There is some gore in the film so squeamish viewers will have to brace themselves, but even the makeup work during the possession scenes makes watching them all the more disturbing. As soon as one of these kids temporarily bonds with a spirit, their eyes grow darker and bruises begin to form on their skin. It's as if they're taking on the sadness and malice of these ghosts but their young bodies aren't meant to handle so much pain. It's fantastic storytelling, told entirely through faces.


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