Horror movies have a tendency to be repetitive, and not just because sequels are designed to make money and strip me of the premise.Hollywood is a reactionary place where producers are eager to replicate the success of others rather than risk — gasp – Try new things. Yet every now and then, the horror genre gets a much-needed adrenaline rush, fires the imagination, and sends audiences flocking to movie theaters.
Get out your hypodermics, kids.
talk to meWriters-directors Danny and Michael Phillips’ feature debut plunges an adrenaline syringe deep into viewers’ arms, leaves it there, and wears them out for the next 95 minutes. We never thought we’d be writing so highly for this duo of directors who started their careers on YouTube. Still, Brother Phillips managed to make one of the most heart-pounding horror films in recent years on a minimal budget.
A group of Australian teenagers have discovered a new social media fad. A ceramic hand – said to encase an actual human member – can open a dialogue with the spirits of the dead. Mia (Sophie Wilde) and Jed (Alexandra Janssen) attend a party with some friends to see if rumors about the hand are true. The two have a long history as best friends, with Mia becoming the unofficial older sister to Jade’s younger brother, Riley (Joe Bird). Riley and Jed’s mother Sue (Miranda Otto) is also doting on Mia, who lost her own mother to a drug overdose.
Mia, Jed, Riley, and Jed’s boyfriend Daniel (Otis Denge) all witness the power of the hand firsthand: For a full 90 seconds, participants leave their bodies and experience a burst of euphoria. Everyone else in the room can then see the different spirits inhabiting the participant’s body. After more than 90 seconds, the soul can be permanently controlled. At first, children enjoyed the novelty of talking to the dead. Then Mia gets in touch with her dead mother and things take a dangerous turn.
philips dwelling talk to me There are many hand images. On an absolute level, this is a story about disconnection and loneliness. Mia wants to speak to her dead mother again. Jed has a somewhat difficult relationship with Mia because of Mia’s relationship with Daniel. Riley wants to party with the older kids, but feels like an outsider.
These feelings of isolation drive the characters to communicate with their hands, despite the obvious dangers. They don’t want excitement. They want affection. They want community. This motivation makes a character’s actions – no matter how absurd – resonant. It also helps that all the young performers actually look like real teenagers, rather than heavily made-up 20s and 30s.
obvious antecedent talk to me yes flat gasket, Joel Schumacher’s cult film follows a group of medical students who temporarily “die” in order to make contact with the dead. While that film relied on special effects, the Phillips took a more unorthodox approach. The duo achieves most of the supernatural imagery through a combination of clever editing and in-camera tricks. Apart from some obvious computer-modified shots, everything here feels physical, which adds to the tension.
Horror movies also have a habit of either A) showing the audience monsters before the characters see them to create suspense, or B) having ghostly creatures jump out in front of the camera, essentially yelling “Boo!” at the audience.Phillips does the opposite talk to me. Characters see terrible things before the audience. Their terrified reactions add to the tension in a big way.audience of our screenings talk to me Seems to want to climb the wall.
The camera stays on the faces of the characters, which is also the director’s boldest choice.success talk to me Relying almost entirely on the actors’ performances to sell the horror. It required some very difficult work by Bird, and especially by Wilde. If their performance falters even for a moment, talk to me Will collapse under its own weight. Byrd forgoes his role entirely, making Riley alternately lovable and repulsive. His youth and inexperience (this is his fourth role so far) make his work here all the more impressive.
Sophie Wilde “A Star Is Born”
Yet history will remember talk to me Star performance as Sophie Wilde. Horror movies rarely allow actors to develop their full range of emotion in the film, and even then, there are only a few opening credits— “The Exorcist,” “What Happened to Baby Jane,” “The Sixth Sense” — Demanding that just as much attention be given to the acting.
Wilde commanding the screen in every frame talk to me, delivering a performance that is both heartbreaking and disturbing. This is her second film, but it won’t be her last. If Wilde makes wise career choices, she could follow in the footsteps of Cillian Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver: actors who went on to have long and beloved careers in cinema with their breakout roles in horror movies. It’s so nice of her to be here.
talk to me It doesn’t rely on heavy special effects, gratuitous violence, a massive death toll, or a well-established franchise to tell its story. Instead, it depends on the performances of the actors and associated characters to captivate the audience. Despite a ludicrous premise, every moment of the film feels grounded in our reality. With their feature debut, Danny Phillippe and Michael Phillippe prove that ingenuity and creativity in film don’t need big budgets or special effects to thrill, horrify, and yes, entertain.
for no reason, talk to me The same artist behind these smash hits hits theaters via critically acclaimed art studio A24 Midsummer, heredity, all at the same time, and TV series Euphoria. While the “big league” studios continue to churn out sequels, reboots, and cannibalized versions of animated (looking at you, Disney) real-life horror flicks, there’s one studio that remembers that the magic of movies begins with captivating stories and creative talent, not titles.to see talk to me Get ready to hear screams…followed by applause.
A24’s Talk to Me opens in theaters July 28.