“Talk to Me” first made waves when it premiered at Adelaide Film Festival last year, and after screening at Sundance in January 2023 it was picked up for distribution in the United States by A24. Though horror fans around the world have been plagued by release delays lately (A24’s “Pearl” didn’t make it to the United Kingdom until six whole months after its US release), “Talk to Me” has miraculously managed a simultaneous release in a number of countries this weekend, including here in the UK. Having caught a late night showing on Friday, I can personally vouch for this being a horror movie worth seeing before it leaves theaters.
The film stars Sophia Wilde as Mia, a teenager experiencing a fresh wave of grief on the anniversary of her mother’s death, who ends up a party where a dangerous game is being played. Ringleaders Hayley (Zoe Terakes) and Joss (Chris Alosio) have come across a ceramic sculpture, supposedly containing the embalmed hand of a medium, which allows people to see the dead when they grasp the hand and say the words, “talk to me.” Follow that up with the invite, “I let you in,” and the spirit will take briefly possession of the person who offered the handshake, resulting in (as far as the teens are concerned) some really great content for Snapchat. What could go wrong?
Speaking to Vulture, the Philippou brothers said that the script for “Talk to Me” was initially shopped around Hollywood, but was rejected by almost every major studio. “We started getting these creative notes steering it into this stereotypical, boring direction,” said Michael Philippou, recalling pressure from Hollywood studios to over-explain the mechanics of the haunted hand: “‘Oh, we need to investigate this hand more.'”
Funding was ultimately acquired from a private investment firm, with further support from government agency Screen Australia, and it’s safe to say that the bet has already paid off.