The latest horror film from A24 hits a plateau and then descends for worse.
As I sat and watched Talk to Me at a press screening last week, I couldn’t help but wonder how much Blumhouse CEO Jason Blum was kicking himself for not being presented with the concept the film conveys to its audiences. Maybe Blum, who runs the best horror company for film and TV and arguably the most efficient film company in general in Hollywood, was presented with this idea before, though we do not know at this time. But for all intents and purposes, Talk to Me presents the best concept in a horror film in recent memory. Kudos to Daley Pearson, who came up with the concept, along with writers Danny Philippou and Bill Hinzman; these three in particular should see their careers skyrocket once the writers strike is over. However, the concept of Talk to Me only takes the film so far before it veers off the path that otherwise would have made the film one of the most memorable horror films we’ve seen in quite some time.
Taking place in Australia, Talk to Me centers around a group of close friends who get caught up in a game that previously had been through the hands of other groups of people. When the group takes possession of an embalmed hand that can conjure spirits by holding it, spirits take over their bodies while the group of people talk to the spirits that are on the other side. As the activity becomes addicting to the group of friends, things go further than they ever could have imagined when one of these instances lasts longer than it should, and the ramifications go beyond their time with the cursed hand.
While the film does take a moment to gear things up after an excellent cold open when audiences are presented with the hand and its unique ability to conjure up spirits, it makes for a compelling set of scenes that show the potential of where the film could go. And without spoiling anything, when the film starts to show us where things go wrong when the group of friends continue to use the hand, it makes for arguably the most horrifying moment in any film we’ve seen so far this year. However, the film plateaus at this moment and its narrative shift once things go wrong (particularly with the main character’s backstory with their family) is uninspiring and leads to a predictable ending. If the film had ended moments after things go wrong, it would have made for a great short film.
Talk to Me is not without its frightening moments and imagery, as there are a couple of really good scenes that will be seared into the audience’s heads long after the film ends. There is also a great lead performance from Sophie Wilde, who plays Mia. With a concept like the one here (even though one could argue it borrows from notable films like The Sixth Sense), you could make a number of sequels or spin-offs that could go anywhere around the globe with different groups of people at the center of the story. A24 has never made a sequel for one of their films, but Talk to Me feels like a prime candidate to be the first one for a follow-up. If we do see another film from this universe, let’s hope they conjure up a better story with a more meaningful payoff.