‘Talk To Me’ Review: RackaRacka YouTubers Create New Horror With Creepy Séance Game

‘Talk To Me’ Review: RackaRacka YouTubers Create New Horror With Creepy Séance Game

Forget the Ouija board. With Tell me, a creepy new conduit for channeling the dead has come into play. It all starts with a ceramic hand that’s eerily realistic. The stories of its origins are varied, but all disturbing in the way of juicy urban legend. The game attached to this cryptic tip is simple: keep your fingers cool in yours. Light a candle. Address the spirit world by saying, “Talk to me.” Surrender your body saying, “I let you in.” You have opened a door to the dead. You will be possessed. Blow out that candle before 90 seconds are up but.

All hell can break loose on the “or else.” In their feature film debut, the twin YouTubers became co-directors Danny and Michael Philippou (aka RackaRacka(Opens in a new window)) sucks audiences into its distinctive hellscape with a tight-knit story of teenage outcasts, and some stupendously sick practical effects.

What tell me about?

Written by Danny Philippou and Bill Hinzman, this Australian horror film centers on Mia (Sophie Wilde), a grieving teenager hungry for connection after the death of her mother. A wall of silence has grown between her and her father. Her best friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen), though loyal, has been distracted by a new boyfriend (Otis Dhanji). So when possession groups appear that promise slavery to escape, maybe Mia is just too eager to venture into the unknown. At first, it’s all fun, twisted games. But when the game drags on too long, Jade’s sweet little brother Riley (Joe Bird) pays a dire price. As her fearsome mother (Miranda Otto) searches for easy answers, Mia and her friend must look into the abyss of limbo to pull Riley out of it.

Within this configuration, the Philippous have ample room for spasms of pain, adolescent angst, and sexual panic. The spirits that take over the bodies of teens are often of the ferociously horny or rowdy variety, giddy to hurl troubling threats or perform a wicked act with a licking dog or bare toes. These bouts of mystifying action are exhilarating. Part of this success belongs to the artists, both the teenage actors playing the possessed and the sticky demons revealed by the hand. But the directing duo deserves praise for keeping their central conceit not only creepy, but also brimming with yuck.

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tell meThe practical effects of will make you scream… and vomit.

The ceramic hand is a suitably creepy handshake to present tell meThe world of sinister spirits. From there, the artists throw their bodies back violently in the chair, as if the spirit’s rush toward its form is given a violent physical push. The camera pans with them, immersing the audience in the thrill of the race chasing the thrown back head and frightened expression. Large dark contact lenses make the pupils of the Taken’s eyes feel strange. His faces lose color, turning a puckered pale blue, as blood drains from his childish cheeks. But this is only the view of the tourists in the tortuous realm of limbo.

The spirits themselves come in various genders, ages, and appearances, but in general, they all share a certain gloppiness. They are adorned with bruised, blue skin, oozing dark bile. Some have broken nails as if they’ve been scratching at the lid of a closed coffin. Others are swollen as if they have drowned and been lost in the tide. Does everyone possess a slippery, shiny sheen of, God only knows, snot? Ectoplasm? Drool? These vicious ghosts run through rooms or sneak out of dark corners, and you might get lost in their deranged details, even as you cringe at their scare tactics. Sharp slashes add strength to intrusions, making ghosts appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. Of course, once Mia sees them, we know they’re always around, visible or not, always longing for the touch of a warm hand and the call of candlelight. In this way, the suspense cooks up even when there are no demons in sight.

An ominous score sends chills down the spine as spirits breach the boundaries of the game, meddling in Mia’s life day and night. As the film focuses on her experience, the directors link us to her way of seeing the world. Every dark corner, every strange noise could be a lost soul screaming for attention. But having broken the rules of the game, Mia, along with us, doesn’t know what could happen now. The Philippous delight in throwing us all into battles of panic: physical, psychological, and potentially fatal. It’s all twisted fun.

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tell me it stands out among teen horror by keeping it real.

These aren’t the devastatingly chic teens of the 2000s studio horror, though. tell me achieves an equally elegant shine in your production. These young Aussies are plagued not only by poltergeists, but also by days with bad hair, chipping nail polish, awkward flirtations, and an aching need to fit in. Wilde channels Mia’s desperation to be accepted into a riveting performance, made up of furious glances, smiles and heart-rending screams. The other teens match her, delivering more grounded and gritty performances than the stuffy underdog or glamorously theatrical Hollywood horror tends to produce. But it’s her mother who really stands out.

In teen-focused horror, parents are often left out or effectively non-existent to tormented teens and whatever evil haunts them. In Tell me, Otto plays the type of mother who demands absolute honesty from her children and returns it, clearly stating her expectations and limits before leaving them home alone. But it won’t be enough to save them from the horror. His rage over it runs through the second half of the film, creating a harrowing obstacle to Mia’s plan to save Riley. Of course, what mother would let this bad influence get close to her beloved and abused son after what happened last time?

Where Wilde must take on emotional storytelling, and he does so with aplomb, Otto plays a mother so real that she makes the most outrageous parts of the film feel authentic, held together by this line of recognizable paternal intensity.

excitingly, tell me not everything is dark And that’s part of his power.

It can be easy to distance ourselves from the plight of many horror protagonists. We tell ourselves that we would never act like them. We would not play with the clearly evil toy. We would not trust the smiling tourist. We would not scale a tall and wobbly pole for online influence. But tell me spread this distancing judgment by taking the time to savor the fun over the fear.

After the rules of the game are presented, the Philippou brothers unleash a kinetic montage, intercutting the possessions of the partying teens. Though scary, this paranormal exploration feels What a party, the kind where you might act recklessly, exposing your youthful, and presumably invincible, bodies to sex, drugs, alcohol… or ghosts. In fact, the act of being possessed is treated as if it were a drink or a drug trip: a delicious challenge to prove yourself and entertain those who are watching. Mia and her friends jump at the chance. And even when things get icky, it’s easy to connect with the vicarious emotion of it all. There is glory in the stupid naivety of youth. That delight makes the turn toward violence, relentless and inexplicable, all the more heartbreaking. Because moments before, weren’t we having fun? The speed at which it slips through our fingers is all too real and terrifying.

At the end, tell me It’s a terrifyingly terrifying horror offering thanks to powerful performances, hair-raising creature designs, a touch of blood and gore, and practical effects that will knock your socks off and take your breath away. Just like her sister on the 2023 Sundance Midnight slate, Birth/Rebirth, tell me It’s the rare horror ride that knows exactly when to end: with a bang. If you’re looking for something fun and scary, be sure to reach out and tap on this one.

tell me it was originally reviewed outside of Sundance 2023.(Opens in a new window)

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