Talk to Me (2022) – OHMC 2023 Day 26

26 October, 2023

Talk to Me (Australia, 2022)

I’ve been hearing buzz about Talk to Me for a while. People kept telling me that I should watch it and that it seemed like my kind of thing. The problem with this kind of word of mouth is that it builds up expectations that no film can actually meet, inviting disappointment. I don’t know whether I’ve finally learned to temper my expectations in the face of hype or whether Talk to Me really is that good, but it certainly didn’t let me down.

Talk to Me is currently available on Netflix in the UK.

Talk to Me 1

Synopsis

After opening with a pretty brutal murder/suicide at a house party, we meet Mia, a teenage girl who is trying to come to terms with her mother’s death two years ago. Happily, Jade, Mia’s best friend, knows just the thing to raise her spirits — a séance!

This isn’t any stodgy old-fashioned séance, however. It takes place at a house party held by their schoolmate, Hayley, where people take turns making contact with the dead. This involves clutching a plaster hand and offering the invitation, “Talk to me”. The person holding the hand then sees a spirit, and can invite the spirit to possess them by saying, “I let you in”. Conventional wisdom is that it’s dangerous possession continue for more than 90 seconds, as the spirit may not want to depart after that. Of course, like something out of a fairy tale, you know someone is going to break this rule. What else are such rules for?

These séance parties become incredibly popular, not only because of the thrills and chills, but because being possessed is a euphoric rush. Mia becomes even more obsessed than her peers, however, when a spirit possessing Jade’s little brother, Riley, purports to be her late mother.

This séance ends in tragedy, driving a wedge between Mia and her friends. Even worse, Mia starts seeing spirits afterwards, making her wonder if some doorway to the spirit realm has been left open. As horror piles upon horror, Mia is left unable to tell what is real anymore as she and her friends are plunged into mortal danger.

Talk to Me 2

General Thoughts

The way the teenage protagonists use and abuse with the hand is depressingly believable. This film is riddled with subtext about addiction and peer pressure. After each person gets over the shock of seeing a real ghost, the experience becomes a mix of party game and getting high. There is a fantastic montage of the second party showing this terrifying experience gradually morphing into a fun lark for everyone.

While the hand and its powers are at the centre of Talk to Me, I like that nothing is explained. Characters share conflicting stories about the hand’s origin, but it’s all rumours and speculation. Ultimately, the truth is unimportant, and a bit of mystery goes a long way.

Of course, this could change. A prequel and sequel are apparently in the works, so Talk to Me may become a franchise. If this happens, I can see future screenwriters exploring the hand’s origins, although I hope they resist the temptation.

The ghosts in Talk to Me are particularly impressive. Some are predatory monsters, manipulating the living into terrible things for their own amusement, while others are just pitiful wretches. All, however, are repellent, looking diseased and filthy. I was reminded of some of the ghosts in The Sixth Sense in the way their appearance carried the trauma of their deaths.

A small thing, but Hayley may be the non-binary character I’ve seen in any mass-market media where there was no need to comment on or explain their gender identity. It felt rather refreshing.

Also, is that the true horror of Talk to Me that it may bring the Crazy Frog ringtone back into style?

Talk to Me 3

Verdict

You’ve probably heard any number of positive reviews and recommendations by now, but I’ll add to them anyway. Talk to Me is definitely one of the best horror films of 2023. I still have a few more recent releases to catch up on before I can say whether it’s my favourite horror movie of the year, but it’s a strong contender.

I have a soft spot for films that confound my expectations. While the murder/suicide that Talk to Me opens with is pretty brutal, the first 40 minutes or so definitely lulled me into thinking I was watching a teen horror film, albeit a very good one. It’s entertaining, with moments of darkness, but it feels safe. Once we get into the second half, however, the darkness and horror intensify at every turn. More than once, I found myself rewinding a scene to see if it was really as nasty as it had seemed at first. All of this pushes us towards a mercilessly dark ending that caps off the film beautifully.

While the build-up may be deceptively gentle, it still doesn’t play coy with its supernatural elements. From the moment the hand is introduced, we’re seeing ghosts. There is no ambiguity here. It’s just not that kind of film. The horror comes from adolescent risk taking, grief, and raw desperation much more than the spirits themselves.

So, if you want to see a film that delivers fun, some unexpected frights, and a harrowing emotional journey, Talk to Me is well worth your time.

The October Horror Movie Challenge

Please do join in and share your own thoughts with us about this or any other films as the month goes on. You can usually find us on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, or lurking in the dark corners of your home.

If you would like to play along at home, my provisional selections are:

  1. Dark August (USA, 1976)
  2. Huesera: The Bone Woman (Mexico/Peru, 2022)
  3. The Banishing (UK, 2020)
  4. Brooklyn 45 (USA, 2023)
  5. Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell (Japan, 1995)
  6. Pyewacket (Canada, 2017)
  7. Grave Robbers (Mexico, 1989)
  8. You Might Be The Killer (USA, 2018)
  9. No One Will Save You (USA, 2023)
  10. The Sect (Italy, 1991)
  11. Last Night in Soho (UK, 2021)
  12. Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (Spain, 2017)
  13. 47 Metres Down (UK/USA, 2017)
  14. The Oskars Fantasy (Philippines, 2022)
  15. In the Earth (UK, 2021)
  16. Something in the Dirt (USA, 2022)
  17. Blood Flower (Malaysia, 2023)
  18. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (Canada, 1987)
  19. Older Gods (UK, 2023)
  20. Come to Daddy (New Zealand, 2020)
  21. Shrew’s Nest (Spain, 2014)
  22. Totally Killer (USA, 2023)
  23. The Premonition (USA, 1976)
  24. Murder Me, Monster (Argentina, 2018)
  25. The Gruesome Twosome (USA, 1967)
  26. Talk to Me (Australia, 2023)
  27. Gaia (South Africa, 2021)
  28. Demon (Poland, 2015)
  29. Juju Stories (Nigeria, 2022)
  30. El Conde (Chile, 2023)
  31. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hong Kong/UK, 1974)
  1. Dark August (USA, 1976)
  2. Huesera: The Bone Woman (Mexico/Peru, 2022)
  3. The Banishing (UK, 2020)
  4. Brooklyn 45 (USA, 2023)
  5. Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell (Japan, 1995)
  6. Pyewacket (Canada, 2017)
  7. Grave Robbers (Mexico, 1989)
  8. You Might Be The Killer (USA, 2018)
  9. No One Will Save You (USA, 2023)
  10. The Sect (Italy, 1991)
  11. Last Night in Soho (UK, 2021)
  12. Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (Spain, 2017)
  13. 47 Metres Down (UK/USA, 2017)
  14. The Oskars Fantasy (Philippines, 2022)
  15. In the Earth (UK, 2021)
  16. Something in the Dirt (USA, 2022)
  17. Blood Flower (Malaysia, 2023)
  18. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (Canada, 1987)
  19. Older Gods (UK, 2023)
  20. Come to Daddy (New Zealand, 2020)
  21. Shrew’s Nest (Spain, 2014)
  22. Totally Killer (USA, 2023)
  23. The Premonition (USA, 1976)
  24. Murder Me, Monster (Argentina, 2018)
  25. The Gruesome Twosome (USA, 1967)
  26. Talk to Me (Australia, 2023)
  27. Gaia (South Africa, 2021)
  28. Demon (Poland, 2015)
  29. Juju Stories (Nigeria, 2022)
  30. El Conde (Chile, 2023)
  31. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hong Kong/UK, 1974)

A Final Note

If you have been enticed here by these posts, please do look around at some of our other film reviews. We also have a podcast, called The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, which occasionally covers horror films. If this appeals, you might want to check out some of the following episodes.

If you dig through the archives, you will also find episodes about a wide variety of horror stories and games. Happy nightmares!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blasphemous Tomes © 2018