Psychological horror films, characterized by their capacity to deeply unsettle and provoke contemplation, rise as the most formidable within the horror genre. They transcend the mere reliance on jump scares or spectral apparitions; when executed masterfully, psychological horrors reign supreme. Notable examples such as Ari Aster's 'Midsommar' and Mike Flanagan's 'The Haunting of Hill House' vividly illustrate this. These narratives frequently delve into trauma and emotions, crafting a haunting experience for the audience.
Recently released, 'Talk to Me' is a gripping psychological horror film that undeniably excels, earning its place among the finest recent entries in the genre. Directed by Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou, this Australian movie stars Sophie Wilde as Mia and Alexandra Jensen as Jade.
Mia, a grieving teenager, finds solace in her best friend Jade and her brother Riley (Joe Bird) after the loss of her mother. However, when Mia and Jade attend a fateful party and engage in a chilling game involving a 'severed' hand that communicates with the deceased, the film spirals into chaos as vengeful spirits choose to linger, setting the stage for a chilling narrative.
While it may not quite match the brilliance of 'Midsommar' or 'Hereditary', 'Talk to Me' provides a riveting and closely contested experience, holding the audience's attention from beginning to end. Set entirely in Australia, it diverges from the conventional American horror movie formula, keeping viewers intrigued by its unfamiliar setting. The deliberate use of a sombre colour palette creates a melancholic ambience, effectively underscoring the intricate emotions of the main character throughout the film.
‘Talk to Me' truly excels in its ability to unsettle viewers through its disturbing sequences, and it's not just the supernatural entities themselves that induce fear; it's the actions they compel the characters to take. The film doesn't shy away from graphic scenes, yet each one carries significance.
Take, for example, the harrowing moment when a possessed Riley attempts self-harm as Mia clings to her mother's spirit. It's undeniably terrifying to witness, but it serves as a poignant metaphor – illustrating the consequences of holding onto something beyond its natural course, inadvertently causing harm to oneself and those around, even if intentions were never malevolent.
At its core, 'Talk to Me' explores the themes of longing and love. Mia yearns for her mother's affection, finding little solace from her father or friends. When given the chance to reunite with her deceased mother, Mia's determination to experience that love remains unshaken, despite her mother's ethereal nature and the uncertainty surrounding her intentions.
Wilde skillfully portrays Mia's emotional journey and the challenges she faces. From the very start of the film, it's apparent that Mia is grappling with grief, attempting to maintain a facade of strength. However, as the story unfolds, we witness her gradual decline, with trauma eventually overwhelming her. The film also serves as a reminder that if you don't allow your loved ones into your struggles at the right moment and persist in battling your deepest fears in isolation, those fears can ultimately consume you, leaving you unable to recover.
The movie explores a range of relationships, including the feeling of being neglected by one's family and the experience of exclusion. When presented effectively, these themes can evoke genuine fear. The Philippou brothers skillfully tap into these fears, crafting a psychological horror that leaves you deeply affected by the depicted trauma.
As a viewer, you're conscious that you're watching a horror film, but you can't help but feel an underlying sense of unease, contemplating what might happen to you and how you could escape such situations.
This movie has the potential to become a classic for the new generation, as it skillfully blends elements of horror, visceral scenes, and psychological trauma. It not only positions itself as a solid horror film but also elevates its status in the genre.