Danny and Michael Philippou’s stunning feature directorial debut, TALK TO ME, is a gripping (no pun intended) tale of grief, possession and loneliness as a group of teenagers trade in Ouija boards and Bloody Mary for a creepy, embalmed hand to commune with the dead.
An unsettling and crushing performance by Sophie Wilde, the film follows Mia, who is grieving the anniversary of her mother’s death. Her increasingly strained relationship with her father causes her to seek solace with her best friend, Jade (Alexandra Jensen), and her family. She acts as a second sister to Jade’s younger brother, Riley (Joe Bird), and develops a close relationship with her mother, Sue (Miranda Otto).
A video starts doing the rounds in Mia’s friend group (the term friend should be used loosely here), seemingly showing possessed or just absolutely wasted teens at a party and has Mia’s interests piqued. She convinces Jade and Riley to go to a party hosted by Hayley (Zoe Terakes) and Joss (Chris Alosio), keepers of the creepy appendage. What seems like an innocent viral hoax turns into something much more sinister as Mia bounds down into a demonic rabbit hole, desperate for answers.
“…rather than fishing out an old joint from behind the sofa or swiping whatever disgusting liquor is sitting in your parents’ kitchen, why not summon some actual spirits?”
We’ve all been at a party when the beer runs out, but you’re not ready to call it a night, so rather than fishing out an old joint from behind the sofa or swiping whatever disgusting liquor is sitting in your parents’ kitchen, why not summon some actual spirits?
Being possessed is a high; Mia describes it as feeling like she’s in the passenger seat, and really, who wouldn’t want to take a backseat from their lives occasionally and have someone else do the driving? But this dispossession from your life can only last for so long; if you let the spirit in for over 90 seconds, that spirit will be tagging along with you until it causes your demise.
“Although TALK TO ME is rooted in exploring some devastating themes, it also has a sense of humour and packs in plenty of gore.”
With their phones at the ready, each gruelling connection is filmed and posted online until one possession becomes too unbearable to watch, and Riley becomes the victim of a spirit claiming to be Mia’s mother. While Riley sits in the hospital seriously injured, Mia, who also ran out the 90-second limit and then some, struggles to differentiate between reality and what the spirits are showing her. As she becomes weaker, the possessions become stronger, and she begins to lose herself until she’s not even in the car anymore. Mia comes to some heart-rending realisations she may not have come to otherwise, which is about the only light in this long, dark tunnel that the Philippous have created.
Although TALK TO ME is rooted in exploring some devastating themes, it also has a sense of humour and packs in plenty of gore. As a debut feature, the Philippous have much to be proud of; they’ve used classic tried and tested genre tropes but have dug deeper into the characterisation of the film’s protagonists. While you won’t find a happy ending here, TALK TO ME is an enjoyable watch nonetheless.