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Talk to Me – Sundance London 2023 (Film review)

3 min read

Courtesy of Sundance

There are simple rules you need to follow to ensnare an audience into your horror film. Start with a shock to entice them in, introduce an item that invites the horror in and give as little information about it as possible and finally, forget the jump scares, you will win your audience with prolonged terrifying moments instead. Directors have followed these rules and have created something truly spine chilling with some images that stick in your mind long after the end credits roll.

Still haunted by her mother's death, Mia finds comfort with her best friend Jade's family. She soon becomes intrigued by a group of teens disturbing videos online and wants to see for herself what its all about. Using an embalmed hand, said to have been a psychic, whoever holds the hand can choose to be possessed by a spirit they invite in. But when someone holds onto the hand for too long, it unleashes the supernatural forces, causing Mia to be stalked by spirits who just won't let go.

Courtesy of Sundance

Usually with a possession story, there is a central moment of said possession and then period of discovery but Talk to Me takes a completely different path. What if a bunch of teenagers found a haunted hand that could connect you with the dead? They make a game about it and make videos. The actual horror of being possessed to turned into a fun night in for a group of teenagers who make light of something so traumatising. Being possessed is a new thrill, a new high and up to a point, show little remorse for the repercussions. The moment where everything changes is when the film takes a more traditional turn but instead of doing what a studio horror would do, as pointed out by the Philippous, searching for the origin of the hand, the film hits the problem head on and delves deeper into Mia. As she was the first one to hold the hand for too long, she is the one who left with the terrifying insight. Constantly haunted by spirits including her mother, she is left to solve the mystery which is far more enticing a plot than following what a studio would do.

With any horror there is an expectation that certain beats will be included, but to avoid feeling like the same old stories being told, there needs to be an exciting hook. The embalmed hand could be taken as a the new ‘supernatural object' but it's the focus on the spirits that appear and out stay their welcome that are embedded in our minds. The somewhat graphic images, even fleeting ones, mixed in with the ominous tone of the entire film is what makes the horror come alive. The Philippous expressly said they wanted to avoid the jump scares that don't serve the story and they definitely delivered on that.

With a fantastic and relatively unknown cast, there is more focus on the characters and with a fresh approach to the horror genre and possession story, Talk to Me is a film that feels excitingly new. In sea of remakes and franchises trying to grab out attention at the cinema and online, Talk to Me cuts through and leaves a lasting impression, even more so in the big screen.

Talk to Me screened at and will be released in cinemas on 28th July