Talk to Me is one of the many films we’ll be seeing at SXSW this year. Talk To Me follows a group of friends who use an embalmed hand to conjure spirits as a fun party game. It’s all fun and games until they unleash a deadly force. The premise seems simple, but the payoff is so scary and rewarding. This Australian supernatural horror film started making the festival rounds last year. It’s written by Daniel Philippou and Bill Hinzman and directed by Daniel Philippou and Michael Philippou. I can honestly say this is one of the most creepy and fun movies I have seen in a very long time.
I’d never heard of this movie until I had my eyeballs on it. It became apparent early on that this was the correct ride to be on. I was so enthralled with this movie that multiple times, I had to remind myself to breathe and lean back into my seat. Talk to Me is one of those rare gems that the second it’s over, you wish you could download it from your memory to all your horror-loving friends. You want to share the experience and want people to nerd out with immediately. It’s cool, unsettling, and a return to a recipe that I often worry has been forgotten. Talk to Me is the kind of movie that reminds me of why I fell in love with the genre. Allow me to fangirl on over a couple of specific things.
Save The Trauma For Your Momma
Talk to Me doesn’t beat the traumatic event in our protagonist’s past to death. I love this genre which is why so much of life is consumed by it. However, I have trauma fatigue and now find myself rolling my eyes when we get the obligatory car crash/significant other’s death/etc. at the top of the film. Or even worse, something tragic happened to a character, and now their supposed loved ones bring it up every five minutes in very unrealistic ways. That’s not this movie, and that set it apart from so many others right out the gate.
We know Mia’s (played by Sophie Wilde) mom died because she and her dad have a get-together to mark the anniversary of her death. When the spirits start to torment her, they even use her dead mom a little. However, this movie allows our character to have a full life. So, the momma trauma isn’t ever on the front burner for too long. It’s a note in the character file, but it’s not being held over every moment in a bid to manipulate us into feeling bad for her. Mia’s a fully realized, complicated, and messy teen, and I live to see it. Sometimes she’s a great friend. Sometimes Mia’s selfish. One time she oversteps, and so much mayhem is unleashed because of her. However, we’re never meant to excuse Mia’s actions because of the trauma we almost forget about. That baggage isn’t there weighing the plot down and bloating the movie.
Black People In The Genre Without Racial Trauma
One of the many reasons I live for this movie is that we have a Black lead that experiences no racism. I repeat, she experiences no racism. This is practically unheard of, which is why I have so many horror podcasts where I yell into the void. I’m tired of only seeing Black leads when they’re being used as props for white people to explore racism. We have libraries and the internet. Stop it, and let us have fun sometimes! While Mia’s world is primarily white, everyone who gets pissed at her are justified in their rage and stay on topic. I hate that in 2023 that’s a revolutionary act as a filmmaker because it shows how low the bar still is.
Because I wasn’t rolling my eyes at forced (and failed) commentary, I was able to enjoy what is possibly one of the most fun movies we’ll get this year. I was watching these kids get high from their weird demonic hand while living my best life. I was able to invest in the messy dynamics of Mia and her best friend’s family, a family that has sort of taken her in as Mia and her dad have a weird relationship. The dream for any Black horror fan is to truly enjoy a surprise performance by Miranda Otto (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as a no-nonsense single mom without catching any strays for being Black.
This movie is scary, relentless, cool, fun, fast-paced, and a bunch of other words that can never do it justice. I don’t know where it’s going after SXSW, but I hope you all see it. I also hope we can talk about it when you do because I lived my best life. A little part of me feels as if I’m as high off this movie as the kids were when touching that gross hand. Talk to Me is a moment, and I can’t wait to see what happens when it’s more accessible. Here’s hoping it falls into the list of beloved movies and becomes part of the starter pack for younger horror fans. I also hope many filmmakers who struggle with having Black women main characters without subjecting them to two hours of trauma and violence are taking notes. Talk to Me is the kind of movie I have been begging for. It restored some of my faith in this genre we all love but which is not usually kind to us.