Skip to Content

Talk to Me Review

Author’s note: This Talk to Me review was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors on strike, the film being covered here wouldn’t exist. If you are interested in helping those workers on strike, please consider giving to the Entertainment Community Fund.

With Talk to Me, directors Danny and Michael Philippou have burst through the doors of horror cinema, giving us an innovative, scary, and emotional film that gives us a fresh perspective on a well-worn genre of horror – the possession movie. Granted, The Exorcist has yet to be topped, but there are certainly enough riffs on the subject that storytellers could bounce off that seminal film and find something original and compelling. Well, the brothers Philippou do exactly that, and the result is a quality entry that disturbs just as well as it jolts.

Talk to Me Review

A24 Films picked this film up after Sundance for release in the United States, and it’s easy to see why, considering their output in the horror genre. Previous films like Hereditary or The Witch offer slow burns, strong performances, and overwhelming feelings of existential dread and nihilism. These films are, for the most part, mood pieces, and effective ones at that.

Talk to Me also relies heavily on mood but it also has no problem making you jump out of your seat or giving you disturbing imagery and gore that isn’t easy to shake off. It’s very smart in how it reveals itself to the audience – it’s always slightly ahead of you but it also gives you clues throughout that it knows where it’s going.

Talk to Me Review

Mia (Sophie Wilde) tragically lost her mother recently, and she’s having a hard time. But she’s found herself a surrogate family of sorts – best friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen), her pre-teen brother Riley (Joe Bird), and their mother Sue (Miranda Otto).

Mia’s been staying with them a lot and ignoring her father Max (Marcus Johnson) when she isn’t blaming him for her mother’s death. Jade and Mia sneak out at night to hang with friends, and the trend lately is to have weird séance parties.

A ceramic severed hand is making the rounds at these parties, and when anyone grabs the hand and asks a spirit to communicate with them, the spirit enters the subject’s body for 90 seconds before being expelled. Jade and Mia aren’t sure if it’s a gag or not — everyone has their phone out recording it for TikTok — but Mia wants to try it.

What happens next is best left for the movie, but things do not go well. Is it otherworldly torment, or is Mia, under enormous trauma, losing her mind? To the movie’s benefit, it doesn’t play the “Is it real or in her head” game too much and provides enough genuine jumps to keep the audience on its toes.

I love the makeup effects from Paul Katte and Nick Nicolaou – during the possession scenes, the characters being possessed look like flesh balloons that could pop at any time, as the spirit and the living fight for control. It’s creepy and off-putting. There’s one shot of gore that will probably haunt me for a while, and watching the audience react to it was a blast.

The performances are uniformly terrific too, especially Wilde, who gives us a character who is suffering but also who is looking for truth and understanding as she dabbles with supernatural forces. Mia wants to explore this new world, but she cannot trust that these spirits who are seeking her out are telling the truth, or have a more sinister, malevolent purpose.

Alexandra Jensen’s Jade is unsure what to do – her friend is being torn apart but Jade can’t be sure if it’s a cry for attention or something else. I really loved Joe Bird’s Riley, who is an innocent thrust into a terrifying reality, and it’s a jarring, physical performance.

Finally, it’s wonderful to see Miranda Otto again as the beleaguered mother who is trying to protect her children from unseen forces, and she has grit and spirit.

Movies like this are defined in their endings and Talk to Me manages to give us an ending that is smart, imaginative, and satisfying. You can tell that Talk to Me probably didn’t have a big budget, but the Philippous make up for that with an intriguing premise, some remarkable performances, just the right amount of gore and jump scares, and a thoughtful exploration of the supernatural that feels like a generational statement.

While it’s obvious that Danny and Michael Philippou are standing on the shoulders of William Friedkin and Sam Raimi, they are exploring new ground and new stories from that vantage point. I suspect we will be hearing from these filmmakers again, and soon.

Talk to Me is an original concept executed very well and showcases exciting new voices in the horror genre.


Talk to Me is rated R for strong/bloody violent content, some sexual material and language throughout. A24 will release the film in theaters on July 28, 2023.

Talk to Me Review