The acclaimed debut film by the Philippou twins, known for the YouTube channel RackaRacka, arrives in our cinemas. A film that updates the canons of films dealing with seances and subsequent possessions to the ways and fashions of Gen Z. The review of Talk to Me by Federico Gironi.
He arrives here preceded by his fame. A fame made mostly of lavish praise, and rightly publicized. In reality it’s not bad, Talk to Mealthough it must be said that it is more of a more well-made and well-thought-out film, “beautiful” if you want, than a truly scary horror film.
Which, it must be said, is not necessarily a limit in the context of contemporary horror cinema where, on the one hand, the jumpscare without restraint of Blumhouseon the other the too often speciously ethereal and refined atmospheres of the so-called elevated horror (assuming and not granted that the label has its own validity).
It should therefore be recognized to the twins Philippe (note on YouTube come Rack Rack) of having kept the bar straight, and built an identity that doesn’t want to be too cheap or give in to overly authorial presumptions, and a film that updates the canons of films that deal with séances and subsequent possessions to the ways and fashions of Gen Z.
In Talk to Me there is the hand (embalmed and covered in ceramic) that belonged to a very powerful medium, which ended up, no one knows how, in the possession of some shamanic teenagers in Adelaide, Australia. Just shake that hand to see the spirits of the dead appear before your eyes, and just say a certain phrase to have theirs possessed. But no more than ninety seconds, please, otherwise there will be trouble.
Boys, being boys, enjoy using it at parties: for them the hand becomes a substitute for alcohol and drugs. A clear metaphor for the authors of the film.
Even more so since problems – big ones – arise when what should be a recreational and “prudent” use turns out to be difficult to respect, and we end up, willy-nilly, biting off more than we can chew, the one that gets us into trouble .
And of course, being i Philippe young people first, and with a good knowledge of social media second, that’s it Talk to Me it is yet another contemporary film where it is told (or ridiculed, or condemned; a bit like in Girlfriend for rent con Jennifer Lawrence) contemporary teenagers’ anxiety about videos and their smartphone screens: there’s no high if there isn’t someone filming; there is no scandal if there is no one filming; there is no reality if it is not inside some channel, some story, some mobile phone.
It must be said, however, that the generational criticism linked to telephones and social media is a criticism that remains peripheral, and the center of the story is made up of other things. Talk to me is a film of atmospheres and psychology, which talks about mourning, guilt and envy, before talking about addictions of various kinds.
The protagonist, Mia – someone who from the very first minutes of the film is a bit of a crab, and stands out for always making the wrong choices which will then put her in a corner, and for whom it is not easy to feel empathy – has lost his mother, and this turns out to be fundamental to the story. As well as how a certain ambivalence she feels for her best friend Jade’s beautiful family will end up being a central point when the spirits released by Mia (and in Mia, somehow) target young Riley, Jade’s brother.
If it is difficult to track in Talk to Me elements of concrete originality, it is also true that the Philippou manage their material well, keep the story compact, don’t spill the beans and don’t exaggerate.
There is – and for two who come from YouTube it’s no small thing – the ability to create strong cinematic images, or which in any case remain imprinted in the eyes and memory of the spectator. And there is the ability – thanks to their attention to psychologies, but also to the more visceral and explicit needs of horror – to generate disquiet. A restlessness which, however, always remains on the surface, never becomes real anguish, and which is left calmly in the roomonce the credits have rolled and we return to the real world.
As if a certain two-dimensional social evanescence had also infected this solid and interesting first work.