Talk to Me - Fantasia Canadian Premiere
Director: Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou
Starring: Sophie Wilde, Joe Bird, Alexandra Jensen, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto
Written by: Bill Hinzman, Danny Philippou
Produced by: Kristina Ceyton, Samantha Jennings,
Cinematography by: Aaron McLisky
Original Score by: Cornel Wilczek
When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces.
Growing up in the Youtuber era has often been a wild rollercoaster. Years ago, you’d watch folks like Logan Paul and KSI pulling stupid pranks or opening FIFA packs; fast forward to 2023 and they’re both A List celebrities with multi-million-dollar endorsement deals. Love it or hate it, Youtubers are this generations entertainers. Enter Rackaracka, the Youtube channel created by Twin brothers Daniel and Michael Philippou. Rackaracka created videos featuring insane stunts and vlogs of the brothers' crazy adventures. They always showed a love for horror and often implemented horror aspects into their videos. Now the brothers have put Youtube behind them and taken their unique brand of mayhem to the big screen with one of the years best horror films, 'Talk to Me'.
In 'Talk to Me', a group of teenagers gather to talk to the spirits with the help of a haunted embalmed hand, but sometimes the spirits don’t want to let go. It's a premise explored in several other horror films, but instead of a hand, it’s usually a Ouija board. The magic trick the Philippou brothers are able to pull off here compared to other horror films is that they have their finger on the pulse of what it’s like to be a teenager in 2023. The dialogue all feels fresh, the relationships are believable and the peer pressure of needing to be perceived as cool on social media can be felt in the film.
As soon as someone becomes possessed, the phone cameras come out, but Daniel and Michael are smart enough not to show you what is happening on the phones. We all know at this point how social media and streaming videos work, it’s nice to have a horror movie that does not talk down to its audience.
All of the performances are very strong in the film, especially from our lead, Sophie Wilde, who plays Mia. Wilde plays the part as a vulnerable wallflower at parties, yet self-confident when she’s with close friends. It’s a captivating role and Wilde plays the hell out of it. When it’s her time to become possessed, she truly knows how to get under your skin, as she plays creepy incredibly well. Joe Bird is also fantastic as Riley. There’s a sequence with his character that made me cover my face as the scene was so brutal.
The film overall isn’t that scary, but more generally unnerving. There aren’t giant jump scares but it's packed with imagery you’d never see in a major studio film. Even towards the end of the film, the twists and turns were shocking because it never takes the safe route. We are dealing with dumb people doing dumb things and the filmmakers don’t want you to forget that.
One downside to the film is the second act kind of treads water. The first and last acts are very strong but in the middle, it felt like they didn’t really know where to go. It’s not a big issue, the film is short enough that the story bounces along at an excellent pace, there’s just a side story involving Mia’s mother that didn’t seem explored fully. Australia has set a high mark for horror over the last few years with films like 'The Babadook' and 'Relic' and now 'Talk to Me' can also be added to that list. It isn’t just a great horror film, it’s just flat out a great film through and through. I have a feeling this is going to become an instant classic with this generation, and you truly love to see it (or YTLTSI, as the youth like to say. I'm hip, whatever.)
- Adam Neeson
'Talk to Me' received its Canadian Premiere at Fantasia '23 on July 23rd