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Talk To Me (2023) Review

She’s back! Sweetie G returns from beyond the veil to talk to us about Talk To Me

Hey folks,

Sweetie G here, long time no read!!

Yep, it’s been a while since I was last inspired to put fingers to keyboard, but here I am, ready to talk to you about TALK TO ME, the new horror outing from the Philippou brothers. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t au fait with their catalogue of creativity before now – but was delighted to see they had been involved with the legendary The Babadook, albeit in a peripheral capacity. Beyond that – there is nothing on IMDB that has drawn me about their creative endeavours, so on with this scare-a-thon…

TALK TO ME is a modern telling of a well-worn story of possession that has been told a million times already and will be told a million times again in the future. That sounds like a less than complimentary thing to say, but their iteration of this tale is actually really quite good. The story being of rebellious teenagers pushing boundaries, ignoring risks, and dabbling with the occult. In the past this occult portal has usually been the terrifying Ouija board, or more recently it can be seen in the mid-pandemic released horror HOST, with an online Zoom séance. In TALK TO ME the supernatural object in question is the ceramic hand that allegedly contains the actual severed hand of a powerful medium/clairvoyant. Fun and games quickly turn into terror when rules aren’t followed (of course!) and the entities hang around for longer than intended. The film boasts some solid jump scares, some gory makeup effects and most importantly some fantastic young actors really delivering some fab performances.

While the rest of the world might have been excited by the release of TALK TO ME; it has not been without its challenges/controversy. The film was banned in Kuwait, because of the inclusion of the trans actor Zoe Terakes. While Zoe is openly trans in real life, their gender in the film is never explicitly confirmed, though it is implied that the character, Hayley, is female based on name and wardrobe. Hayley is central to the discovery of the paranormal phenomena of the hand, leading a morally grey focus on the fun of the highs until the consequences of the lows are brought into unavoidably sharp focus for our group of protagonists.

There is a beautifully nuanced performance by Sophie Wilde in her feature debut role as the protagonist Mia. Clearly deeply troubled by grief and struggling to rebuild her life without her mum, she has built a connection with her best friends’ family rather than with her own dad. Sophie delivers the emptiness of grief and the jubilation of her wishes being fulfilled with authenticity and depth that you just don’t get in a schlocky horror film, so kudos to her and kudos to the direction and editing for presenting what she beautifully performed. Praise is also due to Joe Bird who delivers the film’s most terrifying performances and shocking moments.

The wider context of the story deals with grief and the loss of parents which, post-pandemic, is obviously something a lot of young people are actually dealing with; and it respectfully touches on mental illness as well. Looking out for your friends’ welfare is also a strong message here, completing the set of themes which are noticeably more prevalent in post-pandemic films. There’s also a very strong anti-drugs message here – in fact, it’s about as subtle a “Don’t do drugs kids” message as slamming your own face into the furniture – but it’s sage advice. Don’t do drugs, kids – and to be on the safe side, don’t dabble in the dark arts for shits and giggles at parties.

I immediately drew comparisons with IT FOLLOWS and although it lacks that film’s exquisite slow burn, the anxiety-inducing sense of being pursued is very present. In short, I really enjoyed this film. It was a succinct 95mins long, crafting the maximum impact of each jump scare with a score that was appropriate without being invasive. If you can get to see this at the cinema do: the immersive nature of the screen’s darkness and volume will benefit this film, but I am hopeful this will be a staple for Halloween sleepovers for years to come.