SXSW 2023: ‘Talk to Me’ Definitely Has Something to Say

Credit: A24

There are moments in horror cinematic history where the zeitgeist is appended or changed completely. The horror that comes after cannot help but absorb and reference these pivotal moments. ‘Candyman,’ ‘Evil Dead,’ ‘Halloween,’ ‘It Follows,’ ‘Babadook,’ etc. These films have moments that become iconic, conceits that become tropes, mythology that seeps into popular culture. 

‘Talk to Me’, the latest by Danny and Michael Philippou,  is bound to be one of these films.

You will have people referencing “talk to me” and “I let you in” from the moment this film is released.

Not only does the film introduce a whole new method of spooky incantation and delivery, it walks up to tropes and continually takes jagged turns away from them; creating a slanted and wholly new horrific experience for the audience. 

You will be off-balance. You will be nervous. You will love it. 

On the surface, the film is about a party game gone wrong. A parlor trick that quickly crosses the line of perceived safety into something darkly dangerous. 

Below that, though, the film’s themes broach addiction and generational trauma. It is about grief and the pursuit to escape it. 

As with all great horror, though, the thematic portion of the film runs so subtly, so cleverly, that the audience can easily be lost in the narrative itself. The characters are carefully developed, the narrative has real, relatable stakes, and the tension is elemental. 

You feel it. 

The film follows Mia (Sophie Wild) as she navigates living with a surrogate family after the sudden, tragic, and mysterious death of her mother. Her father has become estranged and she is left to navigate a household as an outsider. 

From here we are introduced to the above mentioned party game. A game that Mia finds herself quickly addicted. The adrenaline and described feelings of euphoria seem to be a pathway of escape for Mia. But beyond an escape it also flirts with answers for Mia. Answers to grief, to mortality, to her mother’s death. 

As with these stories, though, these answers, these escapes, have unintended costs. 

Mia is pulled deeper and deeper in until it begins to hurt those around her. 

The parallel to addiction here is that even though she is the one causing the damage, she perceives the people around here, the people who love her, as the enemy. The people trying to help her are distorted in her addicted mind into the threat in the dark. The threat that is trying to ruin here. 

Her father, the family she is living with, they all suffer at the hands of her obsession for answers. And this is the underlying root of the horror of the film.The horror of hurting those we love. Especially through what seems to be completely noble pursuits. Mia is damaged, Mia is hurt, Mia wants an answer to death, to mortality. An answer that cannot be provided. But she never stops chasing.

And this is what makes ‘Talk to Me’ so scary. 

A tale of obsession and addiction at the cost of everything and everyone around you. 





Talk to Me A24 SXSW
SXSW 2023: ‘Talk to Me’ Definitely Has Something to Say