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Home > Talk To Me (2023): A Stylish Horror Thriller For The Modern Teenager

Talk To Me (2023): A Stylish Horror Thriller For The Modern Teenager

Talk To Me

Astral Tricksters Best the Depressed Once Again

Talk to Me stitches apt social commentary between cleverly edited plot sequences with just enough shock value to throw audiences off. The Phillipou brothers’ A24 debut is cautiously uncomplicated. Its cut-and-dried plot seems more like a backdrop for the film’s lucid writing and dead-on cast. The directors’ quiet ascension after years of experience in cinema has to be a slow roll for what they have planned next.

The twins know that they know what they’re doing. It’s immediately obvious that their notoriety is hard-earned and long overdue – if Talk to Me says anything, it’s that they’re holding back. Cheeky YouTubers at heart, the movie opens with a stretching scene at a Project X-esque party over a single take blasting Lucianblomkamp & IJALE’s Ducks In A Row.

Danny and Michael Philippou are still very young in the film industry. Talk to Me touches on throes and tokens familiar to teenagers and twenty-somethings across all four hemispheres. Otis Dhanji and Zoe Terakes’ respective performances expertly embody the short-lived social capital of acquiring fashionably queer boyfriends and the terrifying allure of tomboy divas. If that sounds like a mouthful, wait until Dhanji’s scene with the bulldog. And the foot stuff later on. There are levels to it.

Hand-holding, denial, anger, and bargaining

With her choppy box-dyed bangs, cartilage piercings, and loose-fit long sleeves, Sophie Wilde as Mia epitomizes the coveted lobotomy-chic look few people can actually pull off. Emotionally unavailable, socially awkward, and painfully bored, her character spirals to rock bottom in a cataclysm of cheap thrills and fake friends in the years following her mother’s suicide. More than anything, Talk to Me highlights how susceptible young people today can be to depression and addiction.

Such weighty messages are sprinkled with sporadic flashes of levity, from cuts of screaming along to music on a car ride home to Crazy Frog text tones that come out of nowhere. Compared to what makes up its remainder, these bursts of humor are few and far between in Talk to Me, which turns out to be very dark by the end. It calls attention to the distance between characters nonverbally, amplifying the clattering of an iPhone keyboard, muffling lazy lies, and panning to eye contact left unmet.

One montage seamlessly glamorized by Mitosan’s Amen effectively encompasses Talk to Me to its core: the enthralling rush of a come-up abruptly interrupted by something that’s nearly too gruesome to witness. Talk to Me masters this sort of bait and switch in an overarching effort to slip in the stark drawbacks which come hand-in-hand with self-medication. There were some truly twisted minds behind this production. A few scenes almost take it too far.

Talk to Me

Loss of innocence in a digital panopticon

Trapped in their own excruciatingly over-documented existences, a group of high schoolers turns to inducing possession for fun. The game is attention-grabbing and stylishly nihilistic, enforcing learned helplessness in ritualized obedience to the near-death experience, an intoxicating abstraction of deviant worship. It’s just provocative enough without coming off as too contrived.

The only cost: coming face-to-face with decaying visions of mortality, the trailing side effects of which include hallucinations, recurring nightmares, and a warped sense of reality. The novelty quickly draws Mia in, closely followed by 14-year-old Riley (Joe Bird), who asks a friend early on in the film, “Do cigarettes give you cancer right away?”.

The rest of the movie follows a formula from there that’s unfortunately all too familiar. With suicide at its forefront, Talk to Me toys with the idea of feigning our responsibility to take care of each other. A scene involving a kangaroo that at first seems trivial is echoed in Mia’s regrets about her mother, her nonexistent relationship with her father, and trying to fit in with her chosen family. The marsupial serves as a bleak and complicated metaphor; it equates putting something out of its misery to listening to its cries for help. If something is mortally wounded, which one is the right choice if no one is watching? If someone is, how would an intervention or lack of one be balanced out in time?

Hard-to-handle truths and manicured lies

Talk to Me offers no definitive closure, but poses an interesting thought experiment following the unseen implications behind violent acts of this nature. The movie imagines a world surrounded by the dead, just as lonely, desperate, and dishonest as the living are. It goes to show that taking anyone for granted comes with grave consequences. Humans crave to be what they are not on either side of their demise; by incessantly choreographing our lives we strive for immortality, divining signs and signals in a blind search for meaning after death. If life is a state of equilibrium – some entropic limbo through eternity – then the only lasting value can be found in the bonds we forge and return to despite of the unending chaos. Talk to Me is abruptly cruel and incredibly derisive for its ostensibly fatuous storyline. It gets two disembodied thumbs up from Dead Talk News. A24’s latest stab at elevated horror is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Talk to Me

Talk To Me (2023) Official A24 Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Avery Pearson has written long-form print pieces, thought leadership articles, and web copy for startups and nonprofits. Her work has been featured in Ocean News & Technology.