Scary, unpredictable and suspenseful as hell, TALK TO ME is an incredibly assured debut from Australian brothers Michael and Danny Philippou.
They wrote and directed the film, a sleek, propulsive journey that conjures up memories of "Flatliners" and "The Sixth Sense" while ramping up the horror and tension.
The film opens with a seamless one camera shot weaving behind a college age student as he enters a house party, asking everyone if they've seen his brother. When he finds him, things unravel quickly and violence explodes.
The film moves forward to introduce Mia (Sophie Wilde). It's the second anniversary of her mother's death and she seems reluctant to be around her grieving father. She seeks comfort in her friends, including Jade, and Jade's 15 year old brother Riley (the excellent Joe Bird). Mia's former boyfriend also happens to be Jade's current flame.
Mia talks everyone into going to a party that night. Glimpses of strange videos showing seemingly possessed or hypnotized people are seen on ever present phones.
As the party gets going, the ring leader pulls out a ceramic, life size hand, candles are lit and everyone is dared to hold the hand and whisper three words, "Talk To Me". If they are chosen they're strapped tightly into a chair.
Rules are set. "Never hold the hand more than 90 seconds" seems to be the most important one.
It's a creepy concept that could have fizzled out like that Ouija board everyone had in their game closet in the 60's and 70's. But the Philippou Brothers take that concept and explode it with inventive style.
Visions ensue, bodies are inhabited and this isn't your grandmother's seance.
Wilde is excellent as Mia, terrified yet exhilarated by her first experience with the hand. Every phone in the room films her experience, spreading the craziness on social media. Watching her pupils fill her entire eye as guttural, wet noises emerge from deep within her tees up the mood.
Mia holds the hand for more than 90 seconds.
Seeing the bodies of the dead wanting to speak to you is one thing when you're holding the hand. But what happens when the spirits start breaking the rules?
Graphic, bloody and intense, things spiral out of control very quickly.
Nothing in this movie is predictable.
You'll want to take your eyes off the screen, but you can't. This thing pulls you in like that hand, not letting go no matter how much you want to look away.
The cast is great across the board. The Australian setting adds a tweak of the unknown for an American audience.
There is no let down in the final half hour and unlike so many horror films, this one doesn't peter out into a parody of itself. The last shot is so damn clever I saw it coming ten seconds before it happened and it still thrilled.
I can't wait to see what the Philippou Brothers do next. Look out Jordan Peele, you've got some stiff competition down under. These boys are TALENTED!
TALK TO ME is an intense horror thriller that rattled me like a great roller coaster, earning an A.
"Mom...is that you?"
See the R rated trailer below for a taste of the madness. This movie rocks.