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Talk to Me

Directed by Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou
Produced by Kristina Ceyton and Samantha Jennings
Written by Danny Philippou and Bill Hinzman Based on a concept by Daley Pearson
With: Sophie Wilde, Joe Bird, Alexandra Jensen, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, Marcus Johnson, Alexandria Steffensen, Zoe Terakes, and Chris Alosio
Cinematography: Aaron McLisky
Editing: Geoff Lamb
Music: Cornel Wilczek
Runtime: 94 min
Release Date: 28 July 2023
Aspect Ratio: 2.39 : 1
Color: Color

This playfully scary Australian supernatural horror thriller is the debut feature from the directing team of twins Danny and Michael Philippou, creators of the popular YouTube channel RackaRacka. The premise involves a ceramic hand, said to contain the embalmed remains of a clairvoyant, which has become the prize possession of a group of kids who use it as a party game. The game, which is just a few steps deeper into the spirit world than the old Ouija Board, involves the player grabbing the hand and inviting the random spirit who suddenly appears before them to possess their body for a brief period. And since nothing would be worth doing these days without filming and posting it, the kids who play this game record each other while possessed and share the videos on social media.

It's a clever horrific spin on the sleepover party games that seemed edgy to teens in the '70s and '80s, like Truth or Dare and Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board, that plays into contemporary fears about kids doing Tik-Tok challenges. There's also a parallel to the casual and often risky way kids at parties experiment with drugs and drinking (often also unwisely filmed on their phones), since when the kids take a "hit" off this creepy hand, they enter an altered state of consciousness accompanied by euphoria.

Like all good party games (and all good horror movies), there are rules to Talk To Me, some of which are there for safety. Since the film focuses on young people, those safety precautions aren't always taken as seriously as they should be—especially where fuckin' with the dead is concerned. That's what the main character Mia (Sophie Wilde) learns when she accidentally lets the game gets out of hand. Like nearly all horror movies released by A24 over the past decade, the film centers on loss and grief. But just as the filmmakers find new ways to avail themselves of old tropes, they also mine some fresh ideas from the grief/loss themes.

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The debut of the Philippou Bros is a playfully scary supernatural horror thriller about a group of Australian kids who use an embalmed hand that can open the door to the spirit world as a party game.