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'Talk to Me' is a brutal, psychologically unnerving Australian horror experience

Talk to Me (Photo: A24)
Talk to Me (Photo: A24)
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Talk to Me
4 out of 5 Stars
Danny Philippou, Michael Philippou
Writers: Danny Philippou, Bill Hinzman, Daley Pearson
Starring: Ari McCarthy, Hamish Phillips, Kit Erhart-Bruce
Genre: Horror
Rated: R for strong/bloody violent content, some sexual material and language throughout

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) – Studio Synopsis: When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces.

Review: “Talk to Me” is innocuous for the better part of two minutes. From there, anything goes. There are subtle aspects to the narrative, but more often than not this Australian horror film bludgeons, stabs, smashes, and bashes its way through its nightmare scenario.

There is an embalmed hand of unknown origins that allows the living to become hosts for the spirits of the dead. The process is temporary. Unless you hold on for too long. Though clearly malevolent, the hand has become a party game that a group of friends record and post to social media.

Mia (Sophie Wilde), a young woman reeling from the loss of her mother, initially sees the hand as a way to improve her social standing. The experience is horrific, exhilarating. And, possibly, a bridge to her mother and the unanswered questions surrounding her death.

You could think of “Talk to Me” as a metaphor for drug addiction, or a meditation on the way loss can make a person irrational, desperate. Brothers Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou have crafted a truly frightening film. Effectively brutal, hauntingly so. But I’d argue that it isn’t as excessive as it could have been. For instance, there are quick snippets of the in-between world where the spirits are trapped. It looks like something inspired by Clive Barker or the infamous blood orgy of “Event Horizon,” but it moves so quickly I’m not sure what I saw. Skin, blood, anguish. That’s more than enough. Miserable place. Wouldn’t want to visit.

I would, however, highly recommend seeing “Talk to Me” if you have even the slightest inkling to horror. It’s more primal than it is intellectual, but the internal logic is absolutely sound. There are terrible decisions that are made, but they aren’t unrealistic. I believe that this is one of those rare horror films that won’t lose its flavor after one viewing.

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