They Talk (2022) Movie Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

They Talk (2022) Movie Review

Horrorific content by delgrady on June 01st, 2022 | Movie Review | Survival, Supernatural, Demon, Psychological, Thriller

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Are the ghostly voices from the past a warning of terrible misfortune?

They Talk was directed by Giorgio Bruno (who also directed Nero Infinito) and stars Rocío Muñoz, Margaux Billard and Sydney White.

They Talk (2022)

They Talk is an Italian horror film made in the English language, and given the rich heritage of Italian horror maestros, from Bava through Fulci and Argento, this is restrained and relatively gore-free by comparison. It might be said that it is a little too restrained on all fronts – more on that later.

The sound engineer obsessing over the details of an audio recording, leading to conspiracy, paranoia and self-destruction is actually a well-established cinematic trope, most famously evident in Coppola’s The Conversation, but also in Brian de Palma’s Blow Out while Peter Strickland’s more recent Berberian Sound Studio mined similar territory, albeit in a different manner. Strickland’s film also provided a throwback to a 1970s Italian horror cinema of excess, an approach, as mentioned, studiously avoided here.

Director Giorgio Bruno is actually no stranger to the horror genre and has simultaneously produced and directed a host of titles including Almost Dead, Endless Dark and My Little Baby as well as producing Succubus and Italian Ghost Stories among others.

Trafficking so consistently in low-budget horror perhaps explains why Bruno chose to take a slightly different approach for this film, effacing jump-scares and gore, or indeed anything truly ‘horrific’ for much of the film’s running time and slowly building to a climax that promises a satisfying resolution.

Befitting the filmmaker’s resume as seasoned filmmakers, the camerawork, editing and set design are all top drawer (including some evocative landscape scenes) but what they don’t really do is create the creeping sense of dread that is generally essential for hooking horror audiences into the narrative. Watch the trailer or the first few minutes of the film and it gives the impression that the film has more of those ‘horror’ tropes we are aware of as audiences – children recounting creepy nursery rhymes in slow-motion - shadows, hooded figures, blasphemous religious imagery, woods and dark landscapes. Yet these are mainly condensed for the sake of the trailer.

The performances are fine, with Swedish actor Jonathan Tufvesson tasked with anchoring the emotional drama. It is quite an international cast all round, with Italian-Japanese actor Hal Yamanouchi as Professor Hasegawa and English actress Sydney White as Emily. Viewers of a certain age may remember White from her role as Erin in the British children’s horror series Young Dracula (2006-14), while the presence of a Japanese actor also invokes a Japanese cinema of haunted technology – the videotape and television in Ring – the digital realm in Pulse, which the narrative trades on.

Overall, the pace is quite glacial for low-budget horror and it struggles to maintain tension and foreboding. The final scene delivers, but audiences may well have lost patience waiting by then, or forgotten which protagonist’s safety they cared about and why. This unfortunately is the main issue with They Talk.

Worth Watching? 

While not without its individual merits, it would have to work very hard to win over the patience of a horror audience primed for action and incident, or simmering foreboding orchestrated at an elevated level. Bruno should be applauded for attempting a different approach, but ultimately it doesn’t quite work.

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