Talk to Me review – visually and emotionally brutal horror

Review by Katherine McLaughlin @Ms_K_McLaughlin

Directed by

Danny Philippou Michael Philippou


Alexandra Jensen Miranda Otto Sophie Wilde


Hyped up at Sundance and picked up by A24.


Visually and emotionally brutal.

In Retrospect.

This will probably spawn a new horror franchise.

YouTube duo Michael and Danny Philippou make the ambitious leap to feature filmmaking with a thoroughly disturbing, uncompromising horror.

Some may roll their eyes to the back of their head like Reagan in The Exorcist at Australian YouTubers RackRacka (aka Danny and Michael Philippou) making the leap to feature filmmaking, but their daring modern horror employs its central concept of teenagers using demonic possession to get high as a thrilling and emotionally engaging exploration of grief, peer pressure and teen life in the digital age.

The twin brothers behind the film have spent years making DIY horror-comedy and their passion and knowledge of the genre is glaringly apparent in this thoroughly disturbing debut. The film hits the ground running with a violent prologue at a party all shot in one impressive and energetically paced take. The stakes are high from the start so that when the main characters are introduced you’re already anxious for their safety.

Exceptional newcomer Sophie Wilde stars as Mia who is grieving her mother’s death. It’s the day of the one-year anniversary of her passing and she’s looking to distract herself, so persuades her best friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen) to attend a possession party. Jade’s younger brother Riley (Joe Bird) and her celibate boyfriend Daniel (Otis Dhanji) tag along too. The twins don’t forget to add humour to the mix and gift Miranda Otto, who plays the very knowing mother to Jade, with some of the funniest lines; her delivery is spot on.

It is essential that there are rules to the chaos in teen horror and the Philippous carefully lay them out in a similar way to films like It Follows, Ringu and A Nightmare on Elm Street. As the owners of a creepy embalmed hand that can open a gate to the spirit world, Hayley (Zoe Terakes) and Joss (Chris Alosio) explain them: touch the hand, repeat a phrase, let the spirit in and make sure to stop after 90 seconds.

To begin with, the possession scenes are dizzyingly rendered, effectively capturing the curiosity of youth and the excitement of being part of the group. They are brought to life with fantastic make-up, horrifying effects, meticulous editing and an up-to-date soundtrack including music from social media sensation The Kid LAROI. As the thrill of the sessions become addictive Mia’s mental health deteriorates and she undergoes a transformation that parallels drug use.

The Philippou twins have crafted credible teen characters, each with their own particular set of fears which are preyed on as the possession scenes get increasingly darker. Sexual desires, loneliness and just wanting to fit in are all shockingly translated through committed physical performances from the very capable young cast. Wilde in particular uses her physicality to terrifying ends.

The teens get a real kick out of an unknown entity inhabiting them and the film translates that buzz of connection in a way that can be read as metaphor for meeting people online. The real danger and gasp-inducing violence emerges once they start to take unnecessary risks in search of IRL genuine connection. This is uncompromising horror that perceptively taps into contemporary life with visual flair and smarts.

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Published 26 Jul 2023

Tags: Danny Philippou Michael Philippou Talk to Me


Hyped up at Sundance and picked up by A24.


Visually and emotionally brutal.

In Retrospect.

This will probably spawn a new horror franchise.

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