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Despite a reliance on metaphors that are neither groundbreaking nor original Aussie horror flick Talk to Me is engaging, intriguing and, most importantly, creepily crawls under your skin.

On the surface Talk to Me is just another ghost story that sees a group of brazen teenagers use a dead man’s hand to open the gate to the netherworld, with predictably severe consequences.

The filmmakers also make it very clear that this is an obvious metaphor for drug use, enhancing an initial sense of derivativeness. Yet somehow Talk to Me overcomes those obstacles and draws you further in with each twist and turn the tale takes.

This is in no mean part due to a masterfully creepy, foreboding mood that permeates the picture and distinguishes itself from similar films with a focus on character and sustained suspense rather than cheap thrills (though the film contains its fair share of those too).

The movie is let down at times by wholly unbelievable character development, but a game cast still is able to sell this by never going into hysterics. This balancing act between cheese and unease is extended to the cinematography, sound design, make-up and editing, with all the tech contributors finding essential scares amid common genre tropes.

In truth, I’m still on the fence on how good and exciting Talk to Me really is (further viewings should clarify that), but for now I’m sufficiently haunted by its ideas and images to give the film a well-earned recommendation.

release: 2023

director: Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou

starring: Sophie Wilde, Zoe Terakes, Miranda Otto, Joe Bird


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