Talk To Me review: Aussie horror movie pulls no punches

YouTube sensations RackaRacka graduate to the big screen with an impressive debut

Talk To Me (A24)
Talk To Me (A24)
  • 🎞️ When is Talk To Me out: In UK, Irish and US cinemas from Friday, 28 July

  • ⭐️ Our rating: 4/5

  • 🎭 Who's in it? Sophie Wilde, Joe Bird, Alexandra Jensen, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, Marcus Johnson

  • 👍 What we liked: It does not hold back when it comes to scares, violence, or humour.

  • 👎 What we didn't: Like most horrors, the actions of the characters often beggars belief.

  • 📖 What's it about? When a group of Australian teens discover an embalmed hand that allows them to speak with the dead they become addicted to the new thrill. Viral fame beckons until one of them goes too far and unleashes horrifying supernatural forces that threaten them and their families’ souls.

  • ⏱️ How long is it? 1 hour 35 minutes

Possessions and seances have been given a Gen-Z update in the buzzy new Australian horror film Talk To Me, which was the subject of a fierce bidding war earlier this year after premiering at Sundance Film Festival. It’s not hard to see why.

The gnarly Australian film is the directorial debut of twin filmmakers Danny and Michael Philippou who cut their teeth creating viral videos (2 billion views online and counting) before later being part of the crew on the 2014 Aussie breakout The Babadook.

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As a genius piece of counter-programming in the summer of Barbenheimer, Talk To Me is a a wild ride of terror, guaranteed to give you a visceral jolt to the system.

Talk To Me (Altitude/A24)
Talk To Me (Altitude/A24)

Set in an generic urban town, Talk To Me is scary, bleak, and unflinching, but also has a wickedly dark stream of humour running throughout. It’s the kind of horror film that you just don’t get out of Hollywood these days.

There’s none of the shiny-CGI haunted house sheen of recent Hollywood horrors like M3GAN or Smile, instead Talk To Me keeps things simple by grounding the age-old fear of possession in a modern urban setting, and throwing buckets of blood at its protagonists.

Watch the trailer for Talk To Me

The high concept premise is so pure and simple it makes you wonder why it's never been done before: a bunch of Australian teenagers have come into the possession of an embalmed hand which allows them to commune with the dead.

You light a candle, take the hand in yours, say ‘talk to me’, and the dead appear. Say ‘I let you in’, your eyes roll back into your head, and the spirit takes possession of your body.

It's the sort of urban myth — like 2014's It Follows with which it shares a lot of DNA, vibe-wise — that grips the attention of febrile teen minds. Being 2023 though, this doesn’t spook the kids, they get hooked on it, and it makes great content for their TikToks and group chats. Of course, these aren’t benevolent spirits they're dealing, and things quickly escalate when one seance goes on too long.

Read more: Child seen fleeing cinema during Midsommar screening

Where other A24 horror films like Hereditary and The Witch deal in nuance, subtlety, suggestion and slow-burn terror, Talk To Me offers no such ambiguity. From the first time our heroine Mia (Sophie Wilde, definitely one to watch) takes the hand, we see exactly what they’re dealing with in gory detail, and it is gruesome.

Talk To Me (A24)
Sophie Wilde in Talk To Me. (A24)

Yes, the characters and circumstances occasionally veer into horror cliche, but the Philippou brothers — known in the online space as RackaRacka — never allow the simple concept to run out of steam, picking at it like a scab, and expanding it into the very gates of hell and beyond.

Talk To Me: What other critics said

Possession Becomes A Party Drug, And Horror Fans Are Going To Get Hooked (CinemaBlend, 6 min read)

A Séance Goes Off the Rails in a Straightforward but Terrifying Australian Horror Movie (IndieWire, 4 min read)

Mingling With the Spirit World Brings Bone-Chilling Shocks in Australian Horror Debut (The Hollywood Reporter, 5 min read)

Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou’s Supernatural Horror ‘Talk To Me’ (Deadline, 4 min read)

They milk the inherently absurd situation for all it’s worth, delivering gross-out laughs alongside brutal explosions of violence from the very opening scene to the haunting final act, while also addressing themes of grief, families, addiction, and online sensationalism.

This is a terrific debut and we can't wait to see what Danny and Michael come up with next.

Talk To Me is in UK, Irish, and US cinemas from 28 July.