Another Certified A24 Hit, “Talk to Me” Dazzles Audiences and Critics and Continues Cinema’s Strong Sidestep from the Zombie Craze.
It’s been a banner year for horror at the cinema so far. But one of the unexpected highlights has been the intense Aussie indie flick Talk to Me.
At first glance, the film seems like just another in a long line of modern films where stupid teens do stupid things across the internet. But there’s something much more subtle, nuanced, and downright terrifying about Talk to Me.
What helps to make it stand out in the world of horror is that it leans heavily into the supernatural, even if the supernatural is used as a cloak for one of its other major themes. In the wider entertainment space, while much of what’s coming out is good stuff, there’s a lot that involves zombies. Perhaps it’s this that has helped Talk to Me to hit some truly incredible review scores for a horror movie.
Talk to Me nets glowing praise at the box office
From former Australian YouTube channel runners Danny and Michael Philippou, Talk to Me generated some serious buzz at the Sundance Film Festival back in January during its world premiere. It went on to wow audiences at some of the biggest genre fests in the world, including the Fantasia Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, and SXSW.
Talk to Me landed in U.S. and international theaters on July 28, 2023 (one day after its Australia release). Made on a tiny $4.5 million budget, it amassed over $36 million within a couple of weeks, as you can see here, proving to be yet another gem uncovered and given some additional polish by indie darling distributor A24.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the aggregated score from over 250 reviews holds it up as one of the best films of the year, certified fresh at 95 percent.
Audiences generally concur, with over 1,000 verified reviews giving it an 82 percent rating. Key points of praise have been its tight run at 95 minutes, practical effects, well-built scares, and a story that twists to help make the experience feel novel. Metacritic also gives it a 76 and 7.6 score from critics and users.
As you can read here from Wired, the way the film frames its story portrays the bullying and peer pressure that comes with the age of social media as the true horrors, as opposed to the entities that pass through the gateway. Those engaging with such fads and seeking to appease anyone who can comment or share online are subject to its powers, and yet, the film itself doesn’t get fixated on this angle. It’s as subtle as it is poignant.
Nuanced supernatural horror scores amidst a horde of on-the-nose zombies
For the past few years, the genre has been soaring, and horror fans have been blessed with blockbuster hits, surprisingly smart sequels and remakes, and stunningly original indie flicks that continue to challenge us and subvert our expectations.
2023 has been another homerun for horror, and we still have a few great months of highly-anticipated releases to look forward to.
Talk to Me is one of the biggest standouts, but other must-see genre gems of the big screen and streaming platforms include Huesera: The Bone Woman, Attachment, M3GAN, Influencer, and Brooklyn 45 —all have a 90-plus rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Though more polarizing, films like Infinity Pool, Cobweb, and The Offering have also earned quite a bit of praise.
Surprisingly, outside of the excellent and well-received Evil Dead Rise, we haven’t been inundated with fresh new zombie films this year, at least not any that have garnered significant attention. However, away from the big screen, much of popular horror entertainment continues to be fixated on zombies — the subgenre that continuously resurrects itself.
In video gaming, zombies continue to be a huge hit as fans eagerly await the arrival of State of Decay 3. The reveal of John Carpenter’s Toxic Commando this summer has garnered 2.6 million views, and Dying Light 2: Stay Human continues to get updates for its eager fan base. Although a remake, this year’s Resident Evil 4 was also very well-received, getting a 93 score on Metacritic to earn the Must-Play badge.
Among the biggest news, the unkillable zombie series stalwart, The Walking Dead, debuted its first sequel in the series (and the fifth in the franchise), The Walking Dead: Dead City. The show centers around series favorites Maggie (Lauren Cohen) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they head to Manhattan to squish some zombies.
The series’s first season premiered on June 18, 2023, and consisted of six episodes. In July 2023, it was renewed for a second season. Of course, the iconic Walking Dead series began life as a popular comic book franchise and achieved further success once adapted for TV screens.
Zombies are even popular across other parts of the entertainment sector, including at sweepstakes casinos. With 600 Diamonds, 5 Sweeps Coins, and 250 Game Coins on signup – you can get it here – High 5 Casino often sees its new players go to Zombie Carnival. A bit like Zombieland, it’s set at a circus, where there are even wild zombears (you read that right) on the hunt.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with tried and true formulas like zombie horror – especially when you get to battle the hordes yourself – but it’s certainly refreshing to see a film like Talk to Me bring something truly exciting and innovative to the table.