Talk to Me (2023) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Talk to Me (2023) Review

Horrorific content by angie on June 12th, 2023 | Movie Review | Survival, Possession, Cursed, Supernatural, Dangerous Exploration, Black Horror

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It's about people who use an embalmed supernatural hand to commune with departed spirits, but go way too far.

Talk to the Hand was directed by Michael Philippou and Danny Philippou and stars Sophie WildeJoe BirdAlexandra JensenOtis DhanjiMiranda Otto (The Silence, Annabelle: Creation, andI, Frankenstein ), Zoe TerakesChris AlosioMarcus Johnson (Risen), Alexandria Steffensen, and Ari McCarthy.

Talk to Me Review

The phrase "Talk to the hand" may be commonly used to dismiss someone, but in the Australian horror film "Talk to Me," conversing with a particular hand leads to terrible consequences. This movie marks the directorial debut of twin siblings Danny and Michael Philippou, known for their provocative and sometimes controversial comedic YouTube videos on the RackaRacka channel. However, "Talk to Me" diverges from their previous work, presenting a supernatural thriller with a serious tone. The story revolves around a group of teenagers from Adelaide who find themselves embroiled in a dangerous occult game.

While the film is a mixed bag, as the script doesn't fully balance its serious tone, it remains a confidently crafted effort with enough intriguing elements to engage viewers, even if it doesn't necessarily induce fear. Its polished execution and modest scale appeal to international buyers seeking well-made genre films.

The narrative begins with a brief and mysterious prologue involving violence, the significance of which becomes clear later on. We are then introduced to Mia, a high school student (played by Sophie Wilde) who has distanced herself from her father (Marcus Johnson) since her mother's suicide two years ago. Mia prefers spending time at her best friend Jade's house (Alexandra Jensen), where she finds a more cheerful atmosphere with Jade's younger brother Riley (Joe Bird) and their single mother Sue (Miranda Otto). The situation becomes slightly awkward as Jade dates Daniel (Otis Dhanji), Mia's boyfriend.

The teenagers attend a house party hosted by Joss (Chris Alosio) and the somewhat mean-spirited Hayley (Zoe Terakes). Joss and Hayley have a mysterious hand resembling a plaster sculpture, which they claim is a psychic's severed and embalmed extremity. A disturbing phenomenon occurs by uttering certain incantations: the person holding the hand starts seeing ghoulish spirits and becoming "possessed" by them. Others can't perceive these spirits, but the resulting bizarre behavior makes for attention-grabbing Snapchat posts.

To shed her image as the "weird girl" whose mother committed suicide, Mia volunteers to try the hand, describing the experience as "amazing" but frightening. Soon, Mia and Jade find themselves hosting their gathering, with Sue safely out for the evening. However, things quickly spiral out of control, especially when Mia lets young Riley have a turn with the hand. The consequences are devastating, raising concerns that the evil spirits from the supernatural realm have crossed over and are no longer under the needle or its users' control.

In its basic concept, "Talk to Me" shares similarities with recent occult contagion and curse thrillers and films like "Flatliners," where young protagonists are pursued by predatory forces unleashed by their ill-advised actions. However, this screenplay attempts to add depth to the formula by intertwining the horror with themes of grief. Mia desperately desires to communicate with her deceased mother, a loss she struggles to accept, and she is not the only character in the film who is vulnerable due to such emotional longings.

Worth Watching?

The capable cast invests earnest efforts in imbuing the spooky movie with higher-than-usual psychological stakes. However, while the directorial execution maintains a relatively smooth balance between melodrama, somber mood, and fantasy, the script needs clarity. The mystery surrounding the hand is left unresolved, which is understandable to a certain extent. Yet, the narrative's literal-mindedness needs to be clarified by leaving unanswered questions about the origin of the hand, the nature of the evil spirits, their motives, and the possibility of transferring from one body to another.

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