24 Jul 23
Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, Marcus Johnson, Alexandria Steffensen
Traditional scares with modern methods. It takes a compelling concept to scare an audience who think they've seen it all, but a number of new voices are finding new flavours of fear. Talk To Me, the new horror from A24 and the producers of The Babadook, is very much part of that new wave.
An exciting young cast lead this story of teenage friends who find an embalmed hand that can commune with spirits. The rules are simple: light a candle, hold the hand and say, "Talk to me" – but don't hold on for more than 90 seconds or "they'll want to stay".
The paranormal rush of the experience leads to it becoming a new thrill for the group. However, when Mia (Sophie Wilde) holds the hand, a terrifying force is unleashed.
When demonic possession hides in a game played by friends, what happens when the game stops? It's a fresh idea that balances intrigue with affecting horror. Critics have called it "a terrifically creepy 21st century horror yarn built on classic foundations", and directors Danny and Michael Philippou remix classic elements of the genre to create something that feels up to the minute.
The use of phone footage and viral legend perfectly places the story in a setting that feels relatable to the TikTok generation, and may have viewers of all ages thinking twice about clicking that next must-see post.
It's a natural evolution for the directing duo, who made their name on YouTube making short-form horror films under the handle RackaRacka on a channel that has generated more than a billion views.
Taking their talents to a broader canvas, they load Talk To Me with plenty of shocks to make you jump out of your seat, as well as storytelling that plays with your mind and leaves the door open for more stories to come.
These bold new filmmakers behind the camera work in partnership with an up-and-coming star in front of it. Much more than a stereotype scream queen, Wilde gives Mia depth and emotion that explains how these malevolent forces have crept into her life.
Supporting cast members Alexandra Jensen and Joe Bird add to the authentic feel of the setting as Mia's friends Jade and Riley, and the trio's bond makes the danger all the more palpable.
Horror fans may notice one genre veteran in the form of Miranda Otto (What Lies Beneath, Annabelle: Creation), who plays Jade and Riley's mother, Sue.
New genre twists, exciting fresh talent... it's exactly what you would expect from a film championed by US distributor A24, the name behind game-changers like The Witch, Hereditary and Midsommar, who snapped up Talk To Me at its debut in Sundance Film Festival's Midnight line-up.
Ari Aster, director of Hereditary and Midsommar, was at Sundance for the premiere and was so taken by the movie that he sought out the Philippou brothers afterwards to congratulate them. It was just one example of the effect it had on festival audiences, and is sure to have the same impact when Picturehouse cinemas welcome it this summer. Victoria Luxford
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