The Creators of Sensation: Michael and Danny Philippou
The creators behind the sensational YouTube channel RackaRacka, Michael Philippou and Danny Philippou, make their feature film debut with Talk to Me (2023). Based in Australia, the filmmakers began their journey in 2013, churning out parody content riddled with explicit violence. While making waves on the film festival circuit, the project catches the attention of studio A24, an independent production studio known for pushing the boundaries of storytelling.
Unveiling “Talk to Me” (2023)
Talk to Me (2023) releases in U.S. theaters on July 28, 2023. With an estimated budget of $4.5 million, it makes almost twice its budget on opening weekend. The story centers around teenagers summoning wayward spirits using a preserved, severed hand. They make a spectacle of the ritual until one of them does the unthinkable. Written by Danny Philippou, Bill Hinzman, and Daley Pearson, Talk to Me (2023) causes viewers to squirm in discomfort.
Summoning Spirits and Unthinkable Acts
Mia (Sophie Wilde) is a social outcast grieving the loss of her mother. Her best friend, Jade (Alexandra Jensen), tries to cheer her up by inviting her to a party where strange phenomena occur. The film wastes no time tossing viewers into the action. With an R-rating to tout, many unfortunate souls fall victim to “the hand.” Violence is the name of the game, visceral, smashmouth carnage. Those foolish enough to commune with the dead do so at their own peril, a tale of caution as old as time.
A Carnage-Filled Spectacle
Films like Ouija (2014) and Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) come to mind. Occult objects are usually never a good idea, especially when a group of irresponsible teens is at the center. As the trailer implies, Mia and her friends get familiar with this lesson. What sets Talk to Me (2023) apart from similar stories is the ritual itself. No one knows how it really works. No one knows where the hand came from or who. There’s an aura of mystique, making the following events even worse. The Philippou twins bring their signature style of body horror and humor. Some scenes are atmospheric, while others are downright nasty.
Sound plays such a pivotal role in the success of Talk to Me (2023). From ramping up the tension to figures lurking in the shadows, viewers hear it all before seeing it on screen. The noises are unsettling and not easily identifiable, especially for American audiences. One scene involves a particular wounded animal; think of the deer collision from Get Out (2017). Piercing cries of a helpless creature paired with deep synth tones create a sense of foreboding, allowing viewers to place themselves in the character’s position. Death is one of the most prominent themes of the movie, as well as the irreparable damage it causes. Trigger warning: Talk to Me (2023) contains sensitive topics such as suicide and other forms of self-harm.
Haunting Imagery and Communal Horror
In addition to the fantastic sound design, Talk to Me (2023) delivers haunting imagery that drills into your cerebral cortex. All of the special effects and makeup are God-tier. Certain scenes made my stomach churn. Many spirits appear severely disfigured or decomposed; even the characters struggle to stare at them. These shared reactions make the viewing experience communal for moviegoers and the cast. The motives of the specters are just as bizarre as their appearance. None behave the same way, making each ritual possession a random encounter.
The Twisted Allure of the Unknown
When it comes to contemporary horror, no one does it better. There is something special about the concept behind the narrative. A timeless formula of youth doing something as stupid as conjuring lost souls into their bodies; think of it as a deconstructed Evil Dead (1981). Fans of the genre will no doubt see similarities and inspirations from other properties. Gore is used sparingly, but when employed, it goes all out. Fans won’t have to wait too long to revisit the unnerving world created by Michael Philippou and Danny Philippou. As Deadline reports, a sequel titled “Talk 2 Me” is already in development. See if it’s worth the hype. Talk to Me (2023) gets a 7.5 out of 10.
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