Since its presentation at Sundance last January, the Australian horror drama Talk to Me (Talk to me, in French version) has left no one indifferent. The Berlinale shuddered with dread and it was Fantasia’s turn to be terrified.

“It’s completely crazy, the reaction of the public, admits his co-director Danny Philippou, met in Montreal the day after the Canadian premiere of the film. What is interesting is that not all countries react the same way. For example, in your house, people were laughing in the most sinister places! »

In a year already packed with feature-length possessions (there was The Pope’s Exorcist, Insidious: The Red Door and soon to be another sequel to the classic The Exorcist), Talk to Me brings forward the obsession of youth for social media. Thus, adolescents agree to be filmed when they are voluntarily possessed. This is possible by shaking a plaster hand and inviting the spirit of a deceased within us.

“If it could happen, I’m sure that’s how young people would react,” laughs Danny Philippou.

This is what Mia (Sophie Wilde), the heroine of the story, does, too happy to finally be able to put her suffering aside and experience new strong emotions. Until the day she comes into contact with the spirit of her dead mother…

“I wanted to tackle subjects that scare me,” says Danny Philippou, who co-wrote the film with Bill Hinzman. My family struggled with depression and mental illness and putting that on paper freed me. I could express my vulnerability and it gave me great peace. »

The result contrasts with RackaRacka, the popular YouTube channel that made the brothers famous. The tone is darker and the themes surprisingly mature.

“What we watch is very different from what we do on YouTube,” reveals Michael Philippou, who loves The Exorcist and Onibaba, and was inspired for the occasion by the mix of genres offered by Bong Joon- ho on Memories of Murder. “We like drama, strong stories and developed characters. I couldn’t express myself personally on my channel, because I was afraid of scaring my fans. »

However, they were not the first to be frightened by this project. Originally, Talk to Me was to be produced by a Hollywood studio and star a well-known actress.

“But we were getting notes from them and we were starting to fear the worst,” recalls Michael Philippou. And there are all these stories that we have heard of directors who have been had. I don’t know if that’s what was going to happen, but we didn’t want to take any chances. We care about every moment of the film, every frame. We didn’t really want to lose creative control. »

The feature film was therefore created independently, in complete freedom, with particular care given to practical visual effects. The great violence is at the service of the subject, the unhealthy moments follow one another and there is nothing to alter the vision of the duo.

“[Australian director] Jennifer Kent’s work influenced us,” admits Michael Philippou, who worked with his brother on his gripping feature The Babadook. It was the first time that we saw a filmmaker really caring about what he was doing. Nothing and no one could distract her from what she wanted. It inspired us a lot. »

The twins insisted on Australian actress Sophie Wilde portraying the lead role. The 25-year-old actress, who has taken part in a few television series (including Tom Jones and Eden), is a real revelation.

“We probably lost money by not hiring a big name, but it was well worth it,” says Danny Philippou. People don’t know it yet, but Sophie is already a star. »

“We are proud to introduce it to the rest of the world,” adds Michael Philippou. She’s so good and she can act out all the emotions… Maybe one of the reasons for the success of the film is that the characters are human and everyone can relate to them. »