Friday, July 28, 2023

Talk to Me - Review


The horror genre has no shortage of teenagers messing with foreign entities and objects they have no business possessing, let alone turning it into some twisted game as it so often becomes. Talk to Me becomes another entry into that list, looking into the often treaded despair of grief, and the perils of teenage peer pressure and life in a digital age. 

When a group of friends discovers how to conjure spirits by using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill -- until one of them unleashes terrifying supernatural forces.

The film wastes little time establishing its frightful premise. There’s a mysterious hand. You grab ahold, and speak the phrase to cross the threshold. And the spirits in limbo appear.  Rinse and repeat for all your peers and their recording phones. That’s where a lot of the great moments of this film stem from. The possessions are dizzyingly realized, provoking the both the eerie nature and thrill that keeps drawing the group into more hits of this powerful tool. 

Just as with anything addictive, the effects start to settle in quickly, and in this case, violently. What appears to be just another party trick to wow those not in the know, quickly sours with the flip of switch. And when it does, its visceral, unforgiving, and ramps the tension up all with one bloody scene.

Most of the film’s emotion comes from main character Mia, played by newcomer Sophie Wilde. She’s still grieving the loss of her mother just one year ago, and that pain is very much brought to the forefront when the grip of the other side continues to pull her closer and closer to despair. The continued use of said power takes a toll, on her and everyone around her, and the push to control it or have some sort of handle on it only makes matters worse. 

There are certainly some issues with the script. Nothing glaring or enough to drag the other elements down, but definitely noticeable. It’s clear that the horror moments were conceptualized with a ton of creativity and flair, but the screenplay can’t always meet the quality of those flashier elements. 

Regardless of those minor issues, Talk to Me uses its tension and anxiety to near perfection. The scenes after the tipping point (you’ll know it when you see it) features some of the most stress inducing, peer through your fingers terror of any 2023 horror film so far, and makes an early case for best scary flick of the year. 

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