“Talk to Me” Rating: 3.5/5
A24 has invested in a demonic possession film. I’m happy to say they pulled it off (mostly).
“Talk to Me” tackles modern topics with a creepy bend, where a group of friends use a spiritual hand to contact the dead. This dangerous new thrill provides a rush, where the internet soon discovers their experiences. But one connection goes horribly wrong, releasing something sinister they cannot comprehend. Can the group reverse their actions? Or will the spirits take over?
To say A24 makes divisive movies would be an understatement. But I always give them credit for creating unique stories.
“Talk to Me” continues that trend with a crafty possession story with some weighty thematic elements. The film is nice to look at, featuring unique camera angles and eerie shots of the possessed teenagers. The lighting was also a highlight. Certain encounters with the spirits are in dark rooms, making for a very unsettling experience.
Many of the performances are by new actors. Each of them do well here, making their integration into a friend group who is reckless and naïve believable. I especially thought Miranda Otto (the only familiar face) gave an awesome performance. But Sophie Wilde brings a sense of humanity to the character of Mia. The loss of her mother is a large reason why she’s so interested in reaching out to the spirits. Her traumatic experience plays directly into the relationships she has, creating problems for everyone as the story moves along.
But the most impressive aspect of the film is the way it examines trauma and how it can affect so many within a group. I really like how first-time filmmakers Danny and Michael Philippou show how loss can lead to vulnerabilities and insecurities, and everyone in that circle will feel the repercussions. Tying in how sinister entities sense that trauma and take advantage of her is a cool way to make the film emotionally engaging. In turn, this makes the film scarier!
The ending is also getting a lot of buzz. I found it quite effective as it ties the ideas together in a bleak and creative way. It will certainly stick with audiences after the film ends. An interesting decision to make was distorting Mia’s perception. Her sense of reality begins to deteriorate as the spirits inch closer, so questioning reality made the story more unsettling as it went on.
“Talk to Me” has a lot going for it. The story is creative and thoughtful. But some of the ideas explored are left unexplained. Certain aspects of the plot don’t come together by the film’s conclusion and left me scratching my head. I enjoyed how certain ideas began, but not all of them come together. If I had to guess, the filmmakers likely left some plot elements intentionally vague. This can be a nice tool to tease the viewer’s mind, but there were one too many loose ends.
Unlikable characters also plague horror films from time to time. Unfortunately, most of the characters in the film struggle to maintain sympathy. Many of them take cheap shots or have a narcissistic bend, so seeing them go through the ringer wasn’t as effective as if they were likable. However, this could be the point.
Recklessness and quick fads intermixed with dark consequences make an effective point by the end. Some clarity on where the hand came from would have been helpful, as well as certain rules within the spiritual world.
I was hoping the film would be scarier too. Much of the marketing insisted this is the scariest film in years…it’s not. It more so provides an unnerving sense of dread rather than being truly terrifying.
“Talk to Me” is a creative, thoughtful paranormal story that does a lot with a small budget. The premise is unique and adds something new to a genre that has felt stale recently. It’s certainly creepy but doesn’t get scary enough to rank among the best. I’d say give it a watch if you’re a genre junkie.
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