Halloween makes a premature July entrance in the form of Talk To Me, a supernatural horror film debut by directors Danny and Michael Philippou. The story follows 17-year-old Mia and her friends who discover they are able to contact spirits using a severed, embalmed hand. Mia, still processing the recent death of her mother, oversteps the boundaries of communication, and gory terror ensues. Despite its audacious release date—only one week after Barbenheimer—Talk To Me has proved to be a commercial and critical success. The film represents a frenetic return to classic horror form for A24, in the midst of the studio’s recent catalog of arthouse “elevated horror” (a contentious term, but a useful one nonetheless).
The Philippou brothers rejuvenate A24’s genre by embracing conventional plot points and jump scares, all while maintaining a sharp grasp on character and pace. Sophie Wilde gives a chilling performance, capturing Mia’s trauma-stricken past and the heart of the story. Her physicality fills the screen; uneasiness can be traced through every eye twitch, every compulsive shudder. While their film careers are novice, the Philippou brothers are no strangers to quick-cuts and sinister shots. The directorial duo are behind a popular YouTube channel known as RackaRacka. Their experience in short-form content can be felt in the film’s pace and editing—an homage to their career and the story’s critical commentary on social media. Camera movements are sudden, dialogue is fast, and scenes race by with startling confidence.
Above all other filmic considerations, however, Talk To Me puts horror first. The combined impact of prosthetics, practical effects, and sound design contribute to truly gruesome sequences—images that will sting and stick. This is the crux of the film’s success: Horror genre aficionados, hungry for a classic terror joyride, can sit in a dark theater and collectively yelp at a gleefully scary story.
Photo Credits: A24
Sabrina Mei is a junior in the MSB studying Operations Analytics, Marketing, and Film & Media Studies. She is the Managing Editor for the INDY.