in Review, Shocktober

Talk to Me (2023)

It’s funny that the whole idea of doing “Possession” films for this year’s Shocktober was inspired by Exorcist: Believer when there were so many other (better) possession films released this year. I loved Evil Dead Rise, and I haven’t seen The Pope’s Exorcist yet (Expect a review from Sean later this week) but even its unimpressive 48% RT score is double Exorcist: Believer’s paltry 22%. Then there’s Talk to Me, a low budget, Australian Indie from a pair of YouTube creators, and it’s arguably the best horror film of the year.

I’m not familiar with the Philippou brothers YouTube channel “RackaRacka”. I’ve heard mixed things from their meta, high energy content. What I do know is what I saw in this film, and what I saw was a mature, well paced, coming of age story about addiction and an embalmed hand.

Talk to Me isn’t the first supernatural horror movie about an evil hand. There’s the 1981 Mexican film Demonoid, there’s Evil Dead II from 1987. Hell, this isn’t even the first evil hand movie we’ve covered this month! Colin reviewed Idle Hands just last week!

What’s special is how this film’s evil hand is utilized. It’s not going around choking people, it’s not even inherently evil, it’s merely a gateway to the other side. A gateway that gets abused by some rowdy Australian teens.

Mia (Sophie Wilde) is a lonely teen struggling with the death of her mother. Unable to get the comfort she needs from her distant father (Marcus Johnson), she seeks solace in her best friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen) and Jade’s brother, Riley (Joe Bird). One night, the kids sneak out and meet up with some friends to play a game. The game? You guessed it: “Talk to Me”. A game where kids grab an embalmed hand, say, “Talk to Me”, meet a spirit, and then say, “I let you in”, letting the spirit possess them. The catch is that you must only let a spirit IN for a total of 90 seconds. Any longer and you may become bound to the spirit. Knowing all that, I’m sure you have an idea where this goes.

I give huge props to this film for developing its own game with its own rules and lore. We even get a bit of explanation when a character says the hand supposedly belonged to a medium who had the ability to contact the dead. The game is simple, instantly putting viewers into the mindset of what it would be like to play and hey, it’s darn creepy too.

After a session gone wrong, Mia becomes obsessed with the hand and uses it in an attempt to contact her mother. She becomes addicted to “Talk to Me”. The film uses the hand as a metaphor for drugs, and much like drugs, there are nasty side effects. Mia hallucinates, witnessing spectral figures that try to mislead and manipulate her. It’s a slow burn done with practical effects along with a star-making performance from Sophie Wilde.

I’d hate to spoil any of the film’s twists and turns, or its masterful ending. I can only implore you to check it out. This isn’t just one of the best horror films of the year, it’s one of the best films of the year. Watch this movie and you’ll be in good hands. Eh? EH?!?!?