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In Talk to Me, the story follows Mia, a teenager who forms a close bond with the brother-sister duo, Riley and Jade, following her mother’s death. The narrative takes a mysterious turn when, during a house party, one of their friends unveils a ceramic hand adorned with enigmatic inscriptions.
This peculiar artifact, when combined with a lit candle and a specific incantation, possesses the power to summon the ghost of a deceased person, allowing them to briefly interact with the living. Moreover, with a voice command, the spirit can inhabit the bodies of the living.
Despite the familiar premise of teens exploring the occult, each séance is captured in an unpolished manner reminiscent of casual gatherings. As one by one, the teenagers succumb to possession, their peers document the encounters on their phones, often reacting with amusement. These videos are shared online, despite the concerns of their more cautious friends.
In ‘Talk to Me,’ the true tension arises from the dynamics among peers, highlighting the fear of losing the only semblance of family they have left. In fact, for a significant portion of the film, allowing a deceased spirit to temporarily inhabit their bodies is portrayed as a lighthearted pastime, as long as certain precautions are observed—limiting possession duration and avoiding excessive exposure to the otherworldly.
‘Talk to Me’ suggests that being possessed by the hand parallels the sensation of recreational drug use. Apart from displaying dilated pupils, the characters also experience euphoria when they allow spirits to enter through the hand. The film draws various parallels between drug abuse and the ghostly possessions via the embalmed hand. For instance, when Mia and her friends consult Cole about his brother Duckett, Cole expresses surprise at allowing a minor like Riley to touch the hand and appears judgmental about it. The 90-second rule in “Talk to Me” further reinforces this analogy.
Just as the characters adhere to the 90-second rule to ensure that no one remains in contact with the hand beyond that timeframe, recreational drug users often exercise caution to prevent overdose. Just as an overdose can lead to severe consequences, exceeding the 90-second limit in “Talk to Me” results in dire outcomes. The film also underscores that even though the characters take precautions to ensure spirits do not linger beyond the 90-second mark, the “effects” of the hand are not always predictable. For instance, Mia experiences no immediate consequences when she exceeds the time limit, while Riley, being a minor, appears less tolerant of the hand’s “intoxication.”
However, the story takes a dark turn as the spirits become increasingly familiar, aligning with the film’s underlying themes of connection, grief, and coping mechanisms. What adds an intriguing layer to the narrative is the influence of social media. The directors’ background in YouTube content creation is evident, as peer pressure compels these youths to share their experiences online.
‘Talk to Me’ doesn’t delve into the internet itself, focusing on how the pressure to perform can profoundly affect those who are captured on camera. This added dimension in the horror film explores the challenges of seeking safe connections and community in the midst of overwhelming tragedy.
‘Talk to Me’ is an exploration of the supernatural and the impact of online culture, set against the backdrop of an unconventional coming-of-age tale.”