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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

‘Talk to Me’: A Silence-Inducing Fright

Image from IMDb

Have you ever desired a way to pass through the veil of the physical realm to contact other beings traveling on the mortal plane? In “Talk to Me,” a 2023 Australian supernatural horror film, that fantasy becomes a reality, demonstrating the terrifying consequences that can stem from this blending of existences. The film originally gained buzz as an independent project directed by the famed YouTuber twin duo Danny and Michael, but critical acclaim throughout its film festival cycle in 2022 led to an official theatrical release this summer.  

“Talk to Me” follows a teen girl named Mia, portrayed by Sophie Wilde, who is grappling with the loss of her mother due to an accidental overdose. Still suffering from grief as the second anniversary of her mother’s passing approaches, Mia sets out to escape her bleak reality by testing out the trendiest phenomenon around the neighborhood: communicating with ghosts. Using the embalmed hand of an ancient medium allows a person to communicate with any spirit that reaches out, as well as have their body taken over by the spirit as a host.  

Viewing the hand as a party trick, which can only be seen in the flesh through an invite by the owner, Mia pursues a fun night out to get an adrenaline rush with her friends while hoping to see how real this ghostly activity is. Little does she know how harshly intertwined this fun game will become with her own reality. 

“Talk to Me” sets out to revamp the common structure of both horror films and the typical structure found in the ghost story sub-genre, as well as the characters that are placed within both. The film places its innovative horror formula at the forefront through its unique twist on ghost behavior and design, as well as its portrayal of the film’s main cast. “Talk to Me” is overflowing with suspense and foreboding anticipation at nearly every second. 

Filled with lingering shots, well-done fake outs, spine-chilling camera work, and slowly paced brutal gore, the film keeps one fearful of what unexpected horror could pop up at any moment.  

This is all tastefully centered with a mixture of crisp imagery, featuring drained out lighting and color schemes that create an atmosphere of nostalgia and despondency within the film’s suburbia. This sense of nostalgia is further enhanced by the stellar acting of the film’s main cast, who provide a genuine portrayal of troubled young teens searching for an exhilarating outlet to their lives.  

The film’s focus on youth also allows this brutal horror film to be used as a backdrop to provide commentary on the difficult issues that young people tend to face. Beneath the surface of “Talk to Me” is a candid conversation about the dangers of peer pressure and vying for social acceptance. Many teens within the town hope to be a part of this risky environment in order to “fit in,” due to an obsession with being included in a social circle. 

Any sudden change in the atmosphere results in characters rushing to take out phones to record instead of finding the nearest exit. Fixated on gaining social acceptance and internet presence, every teen in the room desires to show that they are a part of this unsettling game. The film’s key plot element of spirit communication is also used as an allegory for drug use, as a representation for a person who forces themselves to participate in a dangerous situation with the goal of being perceived as part of a community.  

The communication with spirits parallels the feeling of gaining a new high from the use of substances, a feeling that many of the film’s characters are envious to try, both to discover what they’re missing and to be a part of the shared experience. “Talk to Me” portrays the dangerous lengths that longing for acceptance can lead a person to, with many warping their own minds to treat something horrifying as perfectly normal as long as everyone else in the room is laughing.   

“Talk to Me” truly stands out as a horror film due to the compassion that it shows to its characters by treating them as multilayered human beings rather than props to be used and discarded in return for gory scenes. The film empathetically portrays how the characters’ desperation for acceptance stems from the lack of hope and control in their own lives. 

“Talk to Me” is a groundbreaking horror film that sets itself apart from its genre peers by providing nuanced commentary with the inclusion of a strong plot and carefully crafted character development throughout its horrifying viewing experience. 

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Najee Manning, Senior Staff Writer
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