Talk to Me is an Australian horror from A24, directed by Danny and Michael Philippou.
The pair grew to fame from their horror-comedy sketches on YouTube, under the name RackaRacka.
Their debut film has proven to be very successful, earning over $40 million at the box office surpassing Hereditary as the highest grossing film produced by A24.
The film follows a group of teenagers who participate in multiple séances, using an embalmed hand which supposedly enables demons to possess the body of the person holding it.
After a séance churns out nearly fatal results, the group are forced to repair the damage caused, especially the main character Mia (Sophie Wilde).
Despite the record-breaking box office run, discussion has sparked over whether the film is underrated in its genre, or if it falls into the same cliché traps, and is undeserving of its success.
When working with a genre film, it is often hard to stray away from overdone tropes because these, in effect, make a film belong to a specific genre.
It is hard to be original in a heavily packed genre. If a film subverts genre conventions can it really be classified under it?
Although that rhetoric makes it feel as though I thought Talk to Me was unoriginal, I actually believe the opposite.
While at times we can anticipate a scary moment through the heightening score, the content of the film itself is creepy, it doesn’t need to rely on jump scares to frighten audiences.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s one of the scariest horror films but the whole concept of the film is quite chilling in itself, and can be quite heart-breaking at times.
It is also interesting to see the same tricks used from their YouTube videos transferred onto the big screen.
The gore was not missed, with plenty of bloody sequences that curl your toes. Gore is something RackaRacka mastered early on, a staple of their videos (especially the Ronald McDonald ones!) and they don’t miss in the film.
This is not to say that the film is without its faults. Sometimes the dialogue can seem a bit forced, and there are definitely some cringe-worthy moments (the Crazy Frog ringtone was completely unnecessary). But it does provide an accurate depiction of teenage life, if said teenage life involved talking to the dead.
The film finishes on a cliff-hanger, following a fairly unpredictable ending, and sets up perfectly the sequel that was announced shortly after the film’s release.
The performances are captivating, in particular that of Sophie Wilde. Wilde is able to make us sympathise with an otherwise unlikeable character, in displaying the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl suffering from a recent loss.
In all, Talk to Me is deserving of the critical acclaim that it has received. It’s a modern take on a traditional horror trope and every aspect of the film proves that is deserving of the box office figures it amassed, especially since this is the directorial debut from the RackaRacka brothers.
It will be interesting to see how the sequel will further explore the story of the embalmed hands, and how it will differ from Talk to Me.
Feature Image credit: A24