This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Another horror film arrives in the shape of Talk to Me, the directional debut of Danny and Michael Philippou, aka Australian YouTube sensation RackaRacka, who are known for their popular videos featuring Ronald McDonald going on murderous rampages.
Talk to Me was created by the fantastical studio A24, demonstrating once again how difficult it is for them to produce a subpar horror movie. Talk to Me is certain to become another well-remembered name when discussing A24’s accomplishments because it is associated with such well-known films as Midsommar, X, and The Lighthouse.
Talk to Me tells the story of Mia (Sophie Wilde), who, on the anniversary of her mother’s death, sneaks out to a house party with her friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen) and Jade’s little brother Riley (Joe Bird). While at the party, they play a new game called “Talk to Me”. How do you play? Hold the plastered hand and say, ‘Talk to me, I let you in’. The spirit of a random dead person will enter the living person holding the hand and communicate through them. If you don’t let go of the hand and blow out the candle after 90 seconds, there could be trouble, and the spirit could hang around permanently.
One of the scariest moments in the entire movie is this particular sequence as they play the game for the first time. It’s the ideal way to set the stage for what follows. This sequence also allows the makeup artists to show off their amazing job on the spirits, which was so outstanding that it made them daunting to look at. The game is played repeatedly throughout the movie, but each time it is unique and doesn’t feel repetitive.
This is such a refreshing horror movie since it doesn’t just frighten the audience with jump scares. Throughout the entire movie, they are used sparingly and at shrewd times. Just by using cinematography and editing, Danny and Michael are also able to make this movie frightful. This movie uses a variety of effective camera angles, shots, and transitions to create as much suspense and unease as possible.
A lot of horror films have a propensity to get confusing and more complicated towards the end. Talk to Me maintains its simplicity and is straightforward to follow. When it comes to developing a movie, having YouTubers who have already produced short, well-made skits with straightforward stories appears to assist. There’s a future, where more YouTubers will start to enter Hollywood, and if they are given a small budget and runtime, we might witness more carefully crafted films like the Philippou brothers have been able to produce.
Similar to last year’s horror film by A24, Bodies Bodies Bodies, this film revolves around some Gen Z kids, but in a different light, that film takes a comedic approach and also makes fun of Gen Z. While Talk to Me is a more realistic take on what would happen if you gave some Gen Z kids a way to connect with spirits, the film involves some slight use of social media, as the kids are always seen live-streaming one of the games. These live streams and recordings could’ve been better integrated into the story, but with them not being the main focus of the film, it’s understandable.
With everything having been said, Talk to Me is the best horror film of the year so far. Danny & Michael Philippou bring their A-game in their feature directional debut and bring you a well crafted film filled with good scares, great cinematography, and an easy-to-follow plot.
Talk to Me releases in theaters on July 28.