Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Danny Philipou & Michael Philipou.
Starring Sophie Wilde, Joe Bird, Alexandra Jensen, and Miranda Otto. Horror,
Australia, 95 minutes, certificate 15


Released in cinemas in the UK by Altitude on 28th July.


The supernatural MacGuffin at the heart of this Australian horror is an embalmed ceramic hand, posed in an invitingly ready fashion to grasp whoever wants to get in touch with the afterlife. Chipped, scored and covered with graffiti, it comes with rules; hold it, say “let me in,” and let go after ninety seconds. Unfortunately, for a particular group of teenagers, the rules are discarded, which is awful news for them but great news for the audience of this auspicious feature debut from directing brothers Danny and Michael Philipou.


At the centre of the often gnarly supernatural events that unfold here is lonely Mia, a teenage girl grieving over the recent death of her mother. Tagging along with her friend Jayden to a house party, Mia is too keen to see if the rumours and viral videos involving the hand are true. Experiencing the genuine effects of the unearthly object first-hand, Mia is drawn further to the hand, which sets off a terrifying and disturbing series of events when it becomes apparent that something from the other side has sneaked over to the land of the living when the all-important rules are ignored at a particularly crucial time.


Despite its modern-day setting and digital trappings, mobile phones, and social media that are a part of our daily lives, TALK TO ME is, at heart, an old-fashioned ghost story. The staples are present and correct, foolhardy teenagers dabbling foolishly with the supernatural and a central object at heart little more than a spin on the ever-reliable Ouija board. However, through the contemporary lens of the Philippou brothers, with co-writers Bill Hinzman and Daley Pearson, the film never feels cliched or tired. It feels more of a part with more recent fare like last year's SMILE and tunes into the same wavelength of IT FOLLOWS's supernaturally tinged teen angst.


It easily matches those films regarding scares and shock value, stretching its 15 certificate to breaking point. The numerous disturbing visions on display here are backed up by an intelligent script rich in sharp characterisation and a pitch-black vision of the afterlife that doubles down on its nihilistic edge. This blackness is leavened by its dark sense of humour, which regularly pops up to deflate the high tension.


Making just as big an impression here is the strong cast of unfamiliar faces led by Sophie Wilde. Mia gives a multifaceted performance. Her performance of a (literally) haunted and needy yet likeable teen is impressive enough before considering the startling shifts in personality she undergoes due to her encounters with the disembodied, malevolent hand. The supporting cast also impresses, notably Joe Bird as Mia’s younger friend Riley, who begins to bear the brunt of the chaos that unfolds here.


In yet another summer blockbuster season that is mainly offering little more than the same old regurgitated sequels, this is the perfect antidote, particularly for genre fans. A superior example of antipodean horror that will stand alongside THE BABADOOK, this is an excellent calling card for its directors and cast that proves the genre's rude health.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans