"Nothing ever happens in the first twenty minutes" my kind companion tries to reassure me as the lights to the theatre dim. I let out a little squeal, try to shake out the anticipated scares that are festering inside and I focus on his statement. WRONG!!! In the first 5 minutes to the film we witness a stabbing, an unforeseen and violent suicide and a disturbing road kill accident involving a Kangaroo. I turn to my friend and mouth the words "You Lied". From here on in I sink further into my seat, fingers on standby to act as a shield. It's not until the end of the film I realise just how long I've been holding my breath for, the adrenaline rush that comes with watching this nightmarish hell-scape, I’ve been suspended in limbo that’s somewhere between the living and the dead.
Talk To Me centers on the character of a Mia (Sophie Wilde), a young woman who is still trying to process and grieve the loss of her mother. Unable to find comfort from her father, Mia escapes to her best friends Jade’s (Alexandra Jensen) house. Here, along with Jade’s younger brother Riley (Joe Bird) and Mother Sue (Miranda Otto), Mia has formed the family unit she yearns for. Life starts to shift however once Jade starts dating Mia’s childhood boyfriend Daniel (Otis Dhanji), no longer is it just the two of them but rather then be alone Mia decides to play third wheel on their night out to a local party. On the way there the trio watch snap chat videos of the party in progress, but what they witness are not your your usual party games being played.
When the three arrive Jade and Daniel pair off leaving Mia to join the circle. Lead by mates Hayley ( Zoe Terakes) and Joss (Chris Alosio) the duo produce a ceramic embalmed hand and lay it out on the table, rumor has it it’s the severed arm of a psychic and by using it can become temporarily possessed . As Mia volunteers to go first, Hayley warns her that you have to exercise the spirit within 90 seconds or it will try and stay in the host body. Closing her eyes Mia takes a turn by grabbing the hand and using the catch phase “Talk To Me”, when she opens her eyes she is sat across from someone that no one else can see, directed to say the second lot of words “I Let You In”, the foul mouthed entity takes control over her body. Mia is utterly thrilled - having not felt this alive in year. Mia becomes hooked and its not before long that she’s begging Hayley and Joss to bring it over to Jade’s house. We can understand why Mia and the teens become so addicted to playing this Russian roulette game, of puff puff pass the spiritual medium.
But Its not all fun and ghosts. Mia unexpectedly makes contact with a spirit of a loved one. Ignoring the rules and so desperately trying to get the answers to her own life questions, compromises the life of the living. All hell breaks loose and the lines start to blur, what is real and what’s in your head.
Australian twin brothers Danny and Michael Phillippou wrote talk to me, best know as global online sensations RACKARACKA, the brothers are the creators of action comic horror content that has racked up more then 1.5 billion views and 6.6 million subscribers on YouTube alone. It’s funny that the main age groups these guys target are 14-year-old boys…for something so low bro they create such high – quality content. I think this is the beauty about the brothers, they know their audience and they know how smart they are, what’s the point in dumbing things down, just cause you’re a teen. Danny explains the inspiration behind Talk to Me came from observing the neighborhood kids growing up. “One of the Kids was experimenting with drugs – their friends filmed the experience and they were having a really negative reaction to the drug, they were on the floor convulsing and having a really reaction. Everyone was filming him on the floor and laughing at him. I found the footage quite striking and horrifying at the same time”.
One of the true highlights for me about this film was just how Australian it was. From the nostalgic party scenes, locations used and a lot of the humour (Believe it or not there are quite a few laughs) are due to the colloquialism used. There were no phony American accents to be found which was such a relief. It's a shame that horror isn’t as popular of a film genre here in Australia which is such a shame cause we are just so damn good at it (Wolf Creek, Wyrmwood, The Furies, The Babadook). The brothers how ever I feel have cracked a topic that is still untapped here and that is the supernatural, but maybe with its current boom in cinema, maybe this little film could be the one to break us into that market.
Kudos goes out to visual effects team who one made one of the creepiest props (the ceramic hand) ever featured in a film and for the brilliant work capturing the possessions. The actors get thrashed around, thrown from their chairs violently as the spirits take over and leave their bodies. The Camera whips around just as they do allowing the audience to be swept along as well. The effects that went into creating the possessions, not sure if it was make up or what but seeing the faces of the actors starting to decompose themselves as they became inhabited, bruises, yellowing skin, decaying teeth and nails, it just all added to the unnerving factor.
In the end, Talk to me is a psychological horror that was terrifically unnerving. It may not have the mountain of gore that some of its other counterparts have (though the ones it does will defiantly leave an imprint, warning they come quick); however the true horror comes from accessing those dark recesses of our mind. As the film unravels, what we know to be safe and real in our own minds is questioned. The Phillippou brothers really so make getting scared out of your wits an enjoyable ride and I can’t wait to see what they bring out in the future, truly breathing a breath of air into Horror and Australian cinema. I say a good job is well done when that uncomfortable weight you feel in your cinema seat is still carried with you long after you’ve left the film, when your tucked into your bed and you question that creak in the floorboards, that shadow in the corner of you room and you ask yourself, who I have let in today?