by Frances Ariole, Arts/Entertainment Editor for The Metro Scoop, Published on 10/11/2023
A24 Studios has been on a winning streak recently, particularly with the success of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which garnered numerous awards, including several Oscars. The burning question now is whether they can replicate that magic with their latest horror offering, “Talk to Me,” currently leaving its mark in theaters. So, stay tuned as we delve into the details.
“Talk to Me” reveals itself as a horror-thriller narrative, following a group of teenagers who stumble upon an eerily charged embalmed hand, becoming conduits to the spirit world. This enables them to temporarily host spirits, facilitating supernatural communication. They’ve established a 90-second time limit for these spirit exchanges, as exceeding that may result in an unwelcome permanent occupant in the host’s body.
About halfway through the film, I must confess, I was initially skeptical about the idea of teenagers casually dabbling in the paranormal and broadcasting it on social media. However, it dawned on me that this entire embalmed hand scenario harkens back to the séances and Ouija boards that were once immensely popular. In today’s context, with the incorporation of social media, the allure of the supernatural takes on a new digital twist.
The narrative revolves around Australian teens Mia, Jade, and Riley (Jade’s younger brother). Mia and Jade share a strong bond, intensified by Mia’s recent loss of her mother. Mia’s quest for belonging drives her deeper into Jade’s family, offering her a newfound sense of unity amidst her personal turmoil.
This modern-day horror tale has the potential to evolve into a franchise, thanks to its intriguing premise. The embalmed hand permits spirit possession, mostly benign but occasionally malevolent, while also granting access to visions of death, eerie whispers, and hallucinations that blur the line between reality and dreams. For the characters, possession becomes an adrenaline rush, providing an escape from their own realities—a classic form of teenage escapism.
However, as fate would have it, things take a sharp turn when one of the possessions goes awry, with a spirit claiming to be Mia’s mother taking over Riley’s body. Despite attempts to limit the possession time for Riley, an ill-fated decision leads to a cascade of troubles for all parties involved.
The film encourages you to sympathize with Mia from various angles. Her longing to fit in, intensified by her mother’s passing, propels her into the supernatural realm. The movie chronicles her rebuilding her life amid unforeseen circumstances, endangering her newfound bond with Jade’s family. Even subtle choices, such as her yellow wardrobe, hint at her pursuit of happiness.
As the story unfolds, Mia grapples with her mistakes and the literal demons lurking in her reality. The film concludes with a twist that leaves the audience both satisfied and eager for more.
Regarding the gruesome elements, “Talk to Me” does contain its fair share of gore, but it refrains from resorting to jump scares. Instead, it skillfully weaves in humor without veering into cheesy territory. The pacing keeps the narrative engaging, with standout performances from the main cast and some that are less compelling. While the film generally holds up well, it may not leave a lasting impression, possibly due to budget constraints or a lack of depth in the characters.
The concluding scenes could have been more polished, hastily tying up loose ends and leaving a somewhat hasty impression. “Talk to Me” is worth a watch if you’re in the mood for a decent horror flick, although it might not be the type that compels you to rush to the theaters.