2022 / Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou / Rent / R
"Apparently, it was the hand of someone who could connect to the dead, right, so everyone around him thought, let's just cut his hand off. White people shit, man. I tell you."
A Rundown of Talk To Me
A seventeen-year-old Australian girl named Mia is still mourning her mother's suicide. Mia's relationship with her father has grown ever-distant and she prefers to spend her time with her best friend, Jade, and Jade's younger brother, Riley. With the help of social media Mia has become increasingly aware of a mysterious hand that offers hours of fun under the guise of a teenage party attraction. It's not long before Mia discovers that not only are the videos real but the euphoria brought on by taking the hand and speaking the words "talk to me," followed by "I will let you in" is the exact kind of escape from reality that she yearns for. The teens howl, gape, and jeer in celebration as their antics are taken too far. Is the hand simply an amusing party trick, or are these kids stepping into uncharted lands between the living and the dead?
The Team Behind Talk To Me
The Philippou brothers have been making short videos on YouTube for a decade now under the pseudonym Racka Racka. In the beginning, the brothers had made "fake fail" videos, which must have been good for the algorithm because this isn't the first time I've heard of that origin story. Once upon a time, I was quite an advocate for the Racka Racka video below (so cringe):
This is the Philippou brother's first full-length feature film. The duo was able to direct the film together but when it came to the writing Danny recruited the help of Bill Hinzman (and no not S. William Hinzman). Taking up the role of Mia is Sophie Wilde who has a few acting credits, but none I recognize. Based on her performance here, I'm sure this isn't the last we'll see of her. Sophie has a serious panache! I hope that Joe Bird's role as Riley doesn't go unappreciated. You can tell that the kid spent a lot of time in make-up, and his acting held up throughout. The last actor I feel that is worth mentioning is Zoe Terakes who plays Hailey, the "cool kid/bad kid". Her character adds depth to this group of unsure teenagers by assuming the role of leader, which Zoe shoes off seamlessly.
Jake's Take on Talk To Me
This has been one of my most anticipated films of the year. Thanks to many of the podcasts I listen to I have heard musings about Talk To Me since the Sundance Film Festival of last year. I knew that it was highly regarded, but when I heard it was directed by YouTubers I felt my excitement deflate. What can someone who directs shorts, and curates their content to reflect an algorithm bring to the genre of horror? The answer to that question is kind of difficult to answer. This film is a unique idea, with an original execution. They could have given us the premise, that is the hand, and then they could have explored every depth of it. I appreciate that this film doesn't delve into lore too much. I appreciate that all we're given is the rules, and every horror film needs its own set of easily-described rules. The setting being Australia makes the film feel more universal. The characters are poorly supervised teens which works in just about every horror flick. This film has so much going for it, and I didn't even mention the special effects, which were all practical.
There are plot threads that are left floating, and if you're someone who needs their plots to be wrapped up tight with a bow, then this is not a film for you. There are characters whose lives are left teetering. Mia spends more time than anyone else with the hand, and yet it only seems to further her delirium, which seems to have been happening anyway, so what exactly were the stakes there? There's a recurring "demon" type character, that I expected a character of the film to acknowledge in some way. I didn't need the demon's back story, but if it could have been any demon, then why didn't we cycle through different forms?
Talk To Me is another A24 slamdunk. If self-mutilation makes you squeamish then you're probably just human, but be warned there's a decent amount of that in this film. The Philippou brothers show off their directing chops, and I'll most definitely be looking forward to what they make next.