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Defined: The terrifying ending of ‘Speak to Me’

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There is a cause why Speak to Me is at the moment the highest-rated horror film of 2023 on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Danny and Michael Philippou’s characteristic directorial debut follows a bunch of youngsters in Australia who encounter an embalmed hand that may conjure misplaced spirits. The hand rapidly turns into the group’s favourite occasion favor, as they deal with it nearly like a drug that they can not cease messing with no matter its threatening penalties. That’s, in fact, up till the hand’s true malevolence involves fruition. 

Whereas a number of Speak to Me’s worry issue is constructed on its stunningly grotesque sensible results, the movie’s true energy rests within the sheer ambiguity of its ending and who (or what) could also be behind the hand. However the hand’s magic has strict guidelines about the way to use it safely, and people guidelines imply that our protagonist, Mia (Sophie Wilde), has been possessed from her very first encounter with it. And that element solutions all our questions concerning the movie’s gorgeous final scene. Let’s dive in. 

How does the hand in Speak to Me work? 

A group of friends lounge in a living room, an embalmed hand is centered on a table.

Credit score: Andre Castellucci/ A24

As defined by Hayley (Zoe Terakes) and Joss (Chris Alosio), Mia’s buddies and the hand’s present house owners, the hand both belonged to a medium who may contact the spirit world or a Satanist. Whereas its true origins stay a thriller, we all know that the hand was reduce off from its unique physique — maybe to completely halt communication with spirits or to make sure that the door stays open ceaselessly — and was embalmed with ceramic. 

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There’s an entire ritual for utilizing the hand to contact the spirit world. First, mild a candle to behave as a beacon to the spirit realm, after which recite the phrases “discuss to me” whereas holding the hand. When a spirit seems, give up management over your physique by declaring, “I allow you to in.” To expel the spirit and shut the door between the 2 realms, the candle must be blown out and the hand faraway from the particular person’s grip. If an individual dies whereas a spirit continues to be inside them, then they’re going to be a part of the spirit in that purgatorial realm and ceaselessly wander at nighttime with different misplaced souls.

There’s one other rule, and it is a massive one. You need to finish the ritual inside 90 seconds… or else. We discover out the explanation for that rule when Mia’s good friend Riley (Joe Chook) begins mutilating himself after ready too lengthy. Breaking that rule additionally provides the spirits the facility to stay round within the host’s physique. That is precisely Mia’s destiny by the tip of the movie. 

Was Mia possessed? 

A woman presses her hand against glass in a red room.

Credit score: Matthew Thorne/ A24

Sure, she was, from the very starting. When Mia first conjures a spirit with the hand, you will keep in mind that the spirit she permits instantly takes a liking to Riley. The spirit mentions that they need him and warns him to run. After that, Mia begins seeing spirits round her, even when she’s not holding the hand — it is a main trace that the spirit by no means left. And whereas she does appear to complete the ritual, it is completely attainable that it went over the allotted time, and a sneaky spirit merely latched on to an already-vulnerable particular person.

It is a comparable state of affairs to what occurred to the hand’s earlier proprietor, Duckett (Sunny Johnson), as seen within the movie’s opening scene. In the beginning of Speak to Me, we watch Duckett’s brother, Cole (Ari McCarthy), maneuver his manner by way of a crowded home occasion as he desperately tries to seek out the place Duckett is. Cole ultimately finds Duckett alone in a room the place he clearly appears to be like unwell and begins stuttering that he is been speaking to the spirit of their deceased father, who has been telling Duckett to kill Cole and himself to cease them from unleashing evil. Duckett then stabs Cole and kills himself in entrance of everybody on the occasion. Mia has an eerily comparable expertise, however together with her mother. 

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Mia’s mom handed away a couple of years in the past. For years, Mia assumed it was an unintended overdose, however her dad, Max (Marcus Johnson), has identified the entire time it was a suicide. He even has her mom’s suicide letter, which he reads to Mia after her encounter with the hand. However her denial and grief understandably cloud her judgement, which the spirits exploit. Each time Mia encounters her mother’s spirit within the movie, whether or not by way of apparitions or when she thinks Riley’s speaking to her, it is not really her mother. It is a malevolent spirit merely taking the type of her mother to mess with Mia. 

We all know the spirits can shape-shift; one in every of them even takes the form of her father to attempt to damage her. Each Mia and Duckett weren’t really seeing their dad and mom however evil spirits who have been exploiting their grief and trauma to harm others whereas possessing them.

What occurs in Speak to Me’s ending? 

A woman wearing a yellow jacket screams while sitting on a chair.

Credit score: Courtesy of A24

Mia is set to assist Riley, who’s within the hospital after his terrifying spirit session. However Mia’s additionally possessed, so no matter she thinks will assist Riley is definitely simply what the spirit that is possessed her needs her to do. Mia’s satisfied that she must kill Riley as a way to save him, which might completely maintain Riley’s soul within the spirit realm ceaselessly. Bear in mind, we have identified since Mia’s first expertise with the hand that the spirits have their supernatural sights set on Riley.

Mia kidnaps Riley and takes his wheelchair to a freeway the place she plans on killing him. Riley’s sister, Jade (Alexandra Jensen), arrives simply in time to avoid wasting him, however not earlier than Mia jumps onto the freeway herself and dies. Then we see Mia’s ghost standing in a hospital, the place she notices that Riley’s totally healed — and that nobody can see her. Mia’s spirit is strolling amongst the land of the residing for the final time. Because the lights exit one after the other, Mia’s transported right into a darkish realm the place she sees one small, shimmering mild. When she approaches it, she realizes it is a candle that is summoning her in the direction of the brand new group of buddies who now personal the hand. She lets them in, and Speak to Me ends there. 

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Mia’s possession signifies that she died with a spirit in her, which is why she’s now caught of their realm, although it is nonetheless unclear why Riley was in a position to totally heal. Maybe it was as a result of the spirits wished Mia all alongside and have been utilizing Riley to torment her into killing herself. Or maybe it is as a result of they wished another soul, no matter who it could be, so Mia dying was sufficient for them to let Riley go. Regardless of the cause, we will assume from Mia’s demise that every one souls wandering in Speak to Me’s darkish purgatory have been beforehand individuals who both owned or messed with the hand, which is very terrifying once we keep in mind simply what number of spirits Mia’s small group of buddies have been in a position to conjure by themselves. 

Though Speak to Me’s finale is a spectacularly twisted flip of destiny, ending on a be aware that satisfies Mia’s story, it nonetheless has us begging for extra — and begging to be let in. 

Methods to watch: Speak to Me is now enjoying in theaters.

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