Communing With the Dead Just to Feel Alive
Review by Alison Willmore
A24, the renowned distributor of art-house horror films, has once again found a gem with the Australian movie Talk to Me. Departing from the slow burn approach of films like It Comes at Night and Saint Maud, Talk to Me offers a premise with a refreshing simplicity. The film centers around a figurine that supposedly grants the ability to communicate with the dead. This eerie object, shaped like an outstretched hand, has become a popular party trick among suburban Australian teenagers. Clasping the figurine and saying “talk to me” allows them to see what appears to be a ghost, and if they add “I let you in,” the ghost temporarily takes over their body.
While the film hints at the possibility of an afterlife, it primarily explores the effects of technology and teen isolation. Directors Danny and Michael Philippou, known for their wild stunts and DIY effects on their popular YouTube channel, deliver a slick and visually engaging debut feature. They skillfully employ camera movement to convey the disorientation experienced by Mia, the film’s protagonist, after a supernatural encounter.
Embracing the Supernatural Party Trick
The best moments of the film are the scenes involving the hand figurine. Teenagers Joss and Hayley revel in leading their friends through rounds of paranormal experimentation, treating possession as a thrilling peer-pressured dare. When possessed, people’s appearances and behavior transform dramatically, creating an eerie yet seemingly harmless experience. However, trouble arises when Mia pushes for her friend Jade’s younger brother, Riley, to have a turn with the figurine. Mia’s desperate yearning to reconnect with her deceased mother drives her to disregard the potential dangers posed by the supernatural.
Ambivalence Towards Technology
Talk to Me subtly explores the characters’ quick reliance on technology in the face of anything noteworthy. Mia retreats into her phone for solace instead of reaching out to her estranged father or seeking genuine human connection. The film presents tech as a symbol of teenage isolation and posturing, a resignation that is intriguing coming from directors who made a name for themselves online. However, the film does not offer a pointed critique of technology or other themes, choosing instead to focus on providing entertainment without overstaying its welcome.
Editorial: The Allure of Connecting with the Deceased
At the heart of Talk to Me lies a fascination with connecting to the deceased, a theme that has captivated human imagination for centuries. This desire to commune with spirits can be seen in various forms throughout history, from ancient spiritual traditions to modern-day seances. What drives this curiosity? Is it a mere quest for meaning, a desire to defy mortality, or something deeper?
Spirituality and the belief in an afterlife have long been fundamental aspects of human culture. Many find solace in the idea that death is not the end and that they can continue their relationships with departed loved ones. The ability to communicate with the dead, even if it is just in the realm of fiction, offers a temporary escape from the existential dread that accompanies thoughts of mortality.
However, it is essential to approach such desires with caution. As Talk to Me illustrates, the allure of connecting with the dead can blind individuals to the potential dangers and distort their perception of reality. Although the film presents possession as entertaining and thrilling, it ultimately serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us that tampering with the supernatural can have unintended and harmful consequences.
Advice: Seeking Meaning Beyond Mere Entertainment
Talk to Me raises thought-provoking questions about technology, isolation, and our fascination with the afterlife. As viewers, we should reflect on the deeper implications of these themes and consider how they relate to our own lives. While entertainment has its place, it is important to not lose sight of the search for meaning and genuine human connection.
Instead of seeking temporary escapism or relying solely on technology for comfort, we should engage in self-reflection, open conversations, and explore spiritual or philosophical practices that provide a deeper understanding of life and death. Whether it is through meditation, introspection, or engaging with diverse belief systems, there are numerous opportunities available to explore the mysteries of existence while remaining grounded in reality.
As Talk to Me demonstrates, the allure of connecting with the dead is a fascinating and age-old impulse. However, it is crucial to approach this desire with skepticism and critical thinking, ensuring that our quest for meaning goes beyond mere entertainment and embraces a more profound exploration of our place in the world.
<< photo by Daniele Franchi >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.