In Talk to Me, Mia (Sophie Wilde) still isn’t over her mother’s death. While very close, Mia’s surviving parent, her father Max (Marcus Johnson), drives her up the wall with how little he seemingly tries. Mia now basically lives with her best friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen), her little brother Riley (Joe Bird), and their mother Sue (Miranda Otto, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy).

After going viral on social media, classmates Hayley (Zoe Terakes) and Joss (Chris Alosio) bring a sort of horrific party favor to social gatherings; an embalmed hand that can summon the dead and trigger a high better than alcohol or drugs in the user. Things seem to be under control until somebody takes things too far and the door to the afterlife can no longer be closed.

Sophie Wilde as Mia in Talk to Me (2023), A24

This Australian horror thriller is the debut feature film for directors Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou. The film is a fascinating juggling act between trying to cope with the grief over a recently deceased loved one and doing anything to have them be a part of your life again.

The film is a genuinely seat-squirming and terrifyingly disturbing endeavor. There’s a traumatic event that occurs that Mia is to blame for and once that happens her character keeps making terrible mistake after morally horrific terrible mistake. There are a few moments in the film that are so bloody and so violently jarring that you have the urge to cover or close your eyes until the screaming or nightmarish behavior stops.

Cinematographer Aaron McLisky is key to bringing the terror in Talk to Me to life. Next to the twin Philippou brothers and co-writer Bill Hinzman (Danny Philippou also co-wrote the film), McLisky’s unique sense of perspective and impressive camera tilting at just the right dramatic moment make the creepier sequences of Talk to Me even more unsettling.

While the performances of a mostly young cast are impressive all around, Sophie Wilde is absolutely enthralling. As Mia, Wilde is emotionally devastated over the loss of her mother and seems mostly lost before she encounters the hand. Wilde has the ability to be bloodcurdling, immensely melancholy, and overwhelmingly frightened all over the course of an all too swift 90-minutes.

Joe Bird as Riley in A24’s horror film, Talk to Me.

Mia portrays some downright reprehensible behavior in the film, but the audience is still able to sympathize with her. She isn’t purposely going out of her way to hurt people and she’s only embracing selfishness because of her grief. But it’s the fact that she bets everything on something so supernaturally risky on repeated occasions that makes the film go in the direction that it does.

The ending of Talk to Me will leave you speechless. The concept of the film pays homage to the likes of Stir of Echoes and a horror short story written by W. W. Jacobs and originally published in 1902 called The Monkey’s Paw. The Monkey’s Paw has been adapted into TV series and films countless times over the years, but some notable ones include Tales From the Crypt (“Wish You Were Here”), Are You Afraid of the Dark (“The Tale of the Twisted Claw”), The Twilight Zone (“The Man in The Bottle”), The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Terror II, I am Weasel (“The Weasel’s Paw”), and Adventure Time (“Jake the Dog” from season 5).

Sophie Wilde as Mia in A24’s horror film, Talk to Me.

Mia’s unbelievably surreal journey during Talk to Me has a ton of foreshadowing that all comes to a head in its final moments. The ending isn’t exactly shocking or something that you can’t predict, but the way it all comes together is done so well. The last few minutes will have you thinking about the film and how you feel about death and the afterlife for days afterwards.

The main drawback of Talk to Me is that the second half of the film isn’t nearly as effective as the first. The performances are solid throughout, but the scares and overall creepiness are provided in spades in the first half of the film and then tends to awkwardly evolve into weirdness that isn’t scary in the slightest. Talk to Me bounces back with its thought provoking finale, but the way it swaps bloody face beating for toe sucking is bizarre.

Sophie Wilde as Mia in A24’s horror film, Talk to Me.

The Verdict

Talk to Me is a brilliant and spine tingling evolution of The Monkey’s Paw short story with an incredibly satisfying ending and a scene stealing performance from Sophie Wilde. Aaron McLisky’s cinematography featuring a ghoulish incline at just the right time makes Talk to Me, which is already a well-written nightmare and unique plunge into personal hell, visually and uniquely chilling.

'Talk to Me' Review: A Uniquely Chilling Horror Film
  • The cinematography.
  • Sophie Wilde.
  • The ending.
  • A less scary second half.
  • The whole toe sucking thing.
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