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(This story contains spoilers for A24’s Talk to Me)
Talk to Me, the Australian horror film that racked up a $10 million box office haul this weekend, ends on a particularly disturbing note.
The protagonist Mia (Sophie Wilde) is now one of the spirits she summoned via an eerie embalmed hand, stuck in a purgatory of her own making, conjured by another group of people who now possess the spooky item that drove her to madness.
The directors, twins Danny and Michael Philippou, want to leave a lot up for interpretation when it comes to their movie, which was picked up by A24 out of Sundance. But would they continue exploring the universe they created in a sequel? Possibly.
“Part of me is like, ‘Yeah, maybe it is done,’” Danny tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The other part of me is like, ‘Oh, my God. Give me a sequel, please.’ I’ve got these set pieces that I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, I so badly want to shoot this. This is the coolest thing ever.’ So, if A24 came to me and said, ‘You know what? We’d like a sequel.’ I wouldn’t be able to resist. I’d want to do it so bad.”
Michael adds: “I guess a question would be, would you continue the story around Mia and those characters, or do you go to another part of the world? That’s a debate.” Danny, who co-wrote the screenplay, thinks both of those concepts are exciting. (For now, they are booked on Legendary’s Street Fighter adaptation.)
What the Philippous are clear about is that their story is a tragedy—despite how much gory fun it can be at times. Talk to Me follows Mia, a teen grieving and doubting the apparent suicide of her mother, who rejects her father. Mia integrates herself into the family of her friend Jade (Alexandra Jensen), taking care of Jade’s little brother Riley (Joe Bird).
When a group of local kids start playing with the haunted hand that brings forth evil spirits, Mia is eager to participate as a way out of her grief. She gets addicted, especially when the hand starts conjuring up her mother. Her obsession leads to Riley’s possession and hospitalization, and eventually her own imprisonment in the world of these ghouls. “The worst possible outcome was what we were writing,” Danny explains. “And when you’re writing to express your own fears or anxieties, you get that terrible stuff onto the page that just ends up being the story that we’re telling.”
If you have questions about what exactly happens at the end — in which Mia tries to ostensibly save Riley by throwing his wheelchair into oncoming traffic, but ends up plummeting herself instead — the Philippous have answers, even if they want you to figure it out for yourself. “Even with the ending, people are trying to guess, ‘This is what happened. Did she do this?’ But if you really look on screen carefully, all the clues are there,” Danny notes.
After her accident, Mia wanders through a hospital and sees Riley better, and her dad, who she stabbed, walking away from her. She’s “a lost soul caught between two worlds and two planes, and the light is slowly fading,” Danny explains. Are those visions she sees real? That’s up for interpretation, they say.
They have a “thick” bible of their mythology, describing how the hand works and where it’s been. As for where the actual prop — molded from the forearm of production designer Bethany Ryan — resides? One of the six made is in Danny’s bedroom, whereas the other five are “just out there somewhere,” he adds.
Despite the intense material, the twins, also known for their YouTube channel RackaRacka, say the set was the “funnest place to be”—Danny’s words. Before the possession sequences, they would all rehearse each other’s potentially embarrassing material, including a sequence where one teen, under the spell of the hand, makes out with a bulldog. “Everyone was on the floor pretending to kiss the dog, and everyone was doing these really ridiculous things so that when it was time to come on set, no one had to be embarrassed because everyone had done it,” Danny says. “And it wasn’t only the cast that did it, the crew as well.” They also played Uno on set with “really awkward social dares” involved for anyone who lost.
The prop hands were treated with “delicacy,” Michael says, adding, “No one touched it when they didn’t need to really, and it didn’t get damaged or anything.”
There was naturally a fear of breaking a valuable prop, but also something scarier might have been going on. “The person who worked on the hand last before delivering it on set quit the day that they delivered it,” Michael says. “And we don’t know why. Something happened that night. Think they spooked themselves or something.” He speculates he should probably contact that person to figure out what actually happened.
Danny wonders: “What if they’re dead? What if they find them and they’re dead?” To which Michael replies, “Yeah. They’re dead with their hands cut off.”