Talk to Me is the best horror film of the year. Its disturbing story paired with gruesome imagery makes your hairs stand on end, with its sight and sounds burned into your brain like a bad dream you can’t wake up from. Directors Danny and Michael Philippou craft a hauntingly visceral experience in their directorial debut. There’s no forgetting this film, even if you wanted to.
Mia and her group of friends are like any other group of teenagers who hang out behind their parents back going to parties and doing things they shouldn’t be. Unlike other teens, however, they have what is supposed to be an embalmed hand that can summon the dead. From the moment one of them grasps the hand and says “Talk to me” and “I let you in,” the person becomes possessed by the spirit. They then have 90 seconds to before they need to cut off the connection, or else the spirit trapped within their body won’t want to let them go. For Mia and her friends it’s just a game, but when one of her friend’s little brother Riley wants to play, things take a turn for the worst when a possession goes on for a little too long. The spirits take control of Riley and they have no plans on letting him free.
Truth be told there is nothing particularly new with the general plot of Talk to Me. Possession films are a dime a dozen. Where Talk to Me excels is in its unrelenting presentation. The film opens with a scene at a party where a kid takes a giant kitchen knife and stabs himself in the head with it. It’s a shocking, brutal, and disturbing scene, and that’s just within the first few minutes. From that moment on you’re caught within the film’s possession, unable to look away. And the film only gets more intense from there.
Talk to Me is a story about drama at its core, both in inflicting and deal with it. Mia is still struggling with the death of her mother. Unable to get answers from her father, she looks elsewhere and becomes enticed with the spirit world, as dangerous as it may be. Even when Riley becomes entangled with a spirit, her obsession continues to push her to find answers no matter what the cost. Her trauma spills over to everyone she touches. And just like the embalmed hand itself, the longer you hold on to it, the more difficult it is to let it go.
What makes Talk to Me work so well is how it makes perfect use of practical effects and sound design, resulting in horrors that are truly terrifying. The way Sophie Wilde, who plays Mia, contorts her body and face when possessed is bone-chilling. Her voice deepens and becomes more gravely as the spirit within her awakens. The camerawork is amazing as well, as it bends and shifts just like her body, putting you in uncomfortable and unnatural positions just as she is. Bones crack with a piercing shock. Blood oozes as it seeps and spills into every nearby crevasse. The film uses every technique at its disposal to frighten you, and it does so with a brilliant efficiency.
There is no stronger horror film in recent memory than Talk to Me, and no better film that captures that feeling of dread and sheer terror. If you’re a fan of the genre, then it is absolutely a must-see. Talk to Me is one film that audiences will be talking about for a long time to come.
Directors Danny and Michael Philippou craft a hauntingly visceral experience in their directorial debut. There’s no forgetting this film, even if you wanted to. Talk to Me is the best horror film of the year.