At this point, if A24 is known for anything, it’s horror films. The latest title under their belt, Talk To Me, from filmmakers Danny and Michael Philippou, is another that is bound to have general audiences and horror junkies alike covering their eyes and dropping their jaws in disgusted awe. Almost immediately, Talk To Me breaks down the rules of the film by which its horrors will abide. One thing working in favor of this film is that most people watching it will likely have had some experience with the notion of an “interactive” urban legend.
The absolute fear that was placed in me upon learning what “Bloody Mary” was as a child all came bubbling up to the front of my mind while watching this. But in a smart move, Talk To Me quickly desensitizes us to its very horror, mimicking reality. What starts off rightfully terrifying quickly becomes a party gimmick for teenagers looking for an eventful night. Just as this conceit lulls the characters into a false sense of security, us as audience members will unwillingly fall for the same trick. When the filmmakers decide to pull the rug out from under us, we fall HARD. Paired with shockingly frightening sound design, the moment the Philippou brothers let loose is an assault on the senses. From there, the film becomes more unsettling, more grim, more gnarly. I couldn’t help but be in shocked awe that Talk To Me was getting progressively more brutal, not just cinematically but thematically. Talk To Me never seems to sugarcoat its filmmakers’ fears.
Apparently the Philippou brothers have a much more grim, bleak view of the afterlife than some filmmakers working today. But we’re left with a sense of excitement as horror fans rather than a depressing gloom as humans leaving the theater. It’s a delicate balance to achieve, but the pair pull it off nicely. Furthermore, what’s most impressive about this film is how genuine it all feels. Specifically, how realistic the actions of partygoers discovering what they believe to be another party gimmick. It’s a frightening notion to be in peril, only to look out and see the flash of phones recording looking back at you. While the film never feels like it fully dives into some interior themes it sets up, the prevalence of posting to social media in any situation is always damningly in frame. Coupled with a legitimately fun energy both in front of and behind the camera, Talk To Me is a wholly impressive and entertaining debut from the Philippou brothers. One can only hope that more horror films in the vein of this, Barbarian, and Evil Dead Rise release soon, as the box office numbers for all three are nothing but exciting and reassuring!