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Chris Alosio in Talk to Me. (Photo: Supplied / Design: Archi Banal)
Chris Alosio in Talk to Me. (Photo: Supplied / Design: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureJuly 29, 2023

Meet the Wellington actor starring in the scariest movie of the year

Chris Alosio in Talk to Me. (Photo: Supplied / Design: Archi Banal)
Chris Alosio in Talk to Me. (Photo: Supplied / Design: Archi Banal)

Alex Casey talks to Chris Alosio, the breakout star of bone-chilling new A24 horror Talk to Me, about challenging stereotypes while also guiding audiences into hell.

It’s not often I would start an interview by demanding an apology from a movie star, but in this instance I haven’t slept for nearly 32 hours thanks to fretting about the oozing demons lingering under my bed, in my bed, and under my skin, all night. “Oh shit, really?” Chris Alosio, who plays the charismatic teen ringleader Joss in Talk To Me, laughs while swishing away his vape cloud from the Zoom camera. “Well shucks, that’s my pleasure.” 

Even for the most hardened of horror fans, A24’s highly-anticipated Gen Z seance flick, self-funded and made by South Australian YouTube duo RackaRacka, is a tough watch. The Spinoff’s Rec Room editor Chris Schulz said it will “taunt your soul”, while other critics have said it “guides you straight by the hand into hell” and “plunges the adrenaline syringe deep.” I can confirm I haven’t been so upset since Toni Collette picked up that razor wire in Hereditary. 

The film follows a group of Gen Z friends as they become obsessed with using an old embalmed hand to become temporarily possessed by a spirit. Hold the hand. Say “talk to me”, then “let me in” and you’re away laughing. The ritual quickly becomes an intoxicating trend, helped by viral social media hype. But when recently-bereaved Mia contacts her dead mother, she sticks around for too long and opens a door that most certainly should have been left closed. 

It’s ironic, then, that Chris Alosio, whose gregarious hype man Joss is the custodian of the hand, has never been a fan of scary movies. “When I told my mates I was going to do this horror movie, they all laughed,” he says. “In my circles, people don’t really jam with that.” 

Growing up in Porirua and going to St Patrick’s College, Alosio discovered drama at high school and went on to study at Wellington’s Toi Whakaari. Halfway through his studies, he was approached to be a part of Australian series Fighting Season, which is when he made the decision to cross the ditch. But he says it wasn’t just the role that inspired the move, but a growing feeling of limitation for Pacific actors in Aotearoa. 

Chris Alosio on the set of Talk to Me. (Photo: Supplied)

“I felt like there was a stigma around us only being able to play one thing,” he says, citing a slew of “South Auckland” and “Sione’s Wedding”-inspired roles. “Don’t get me wrong, I love those guys and I really respect what they’ve done for us to be where we are today. But for that to be the be all and end all? That, for me, is really limiting.” The impact of that stereotyping would later feature in SWIDT’s ‘Bunga’ music video, in which Alosio stars (“If they see me then it’s usually on the TV, Police 10/7”)

Since moving to Australia, Alosio’s acted in Fighting Seasons and a number of other big movie and television projects we aren’t allowed to talk about yet, but Talk To Me provided a unique opportunity to bring something new to audiences. “Originally Joss was meant to have a lot more bully vibes,” he explains. “But I saw a good opportunity to use Joss as a point of levity for the film.” With the blessing of creators Danny and Michael Philippou, he says he was given autonomy to reshape the character. 

“I had to think about ‘OK, what is this going to do for the film in general?’ And then ‘What is this going to do for the Pacific Islanders who are watching you?’” The result is a necessary crack up character who not only lures in the other characters to take part in the bizarre ritual, but delivers some of the most memorable lines, like “white people shit, man” in the trailer. That line in particular wasn’t originally in the script, but improvised by Alosio during the final take. 

Chris Alosio and Sophie Wilde in Talk to Me. Image: Supplied

“A lot of what I say in the movie is just how we are back home,” he says. “That made me really proud to be able to put that on the big screen.” He’s also grateful that the film feels like an authentic portrayal of Gen Z. “There’s all these small little details, like the scene where Joe is falling asleep watching a video on YouTube with headphones in, which is a very different image to a guy falling asleep watching TV.” 

There’s another taste of home in the movie – a SWIDT track appears in one of the early party scenes. “On set, the Racka boys were playing their music through a speaker, and I was like ‘let me jump on the speaker, I can get us the energy before we shoot the scene’,” he recalls. “SWIDT is my go-to for that vibe and it just got everyone so hyped up.” The directors asked him to send them a playlist of recommendations, and SWIDT’s ‘Who Run It?’ made the final cut.

For all the good vibes and flourishes from Aotearoa, Alosio is clear about what viewers are getting themselves in for with Talk to Me – he hasn’t been to a screening yet where someone hasn’t walked out. “You’re not going to be chilling in there. At any point.” And while his character Joss might appear to be a feel-good party guy, do not get too comfortable. “My job in the film is to help to draw the audience into this idea that they would want to party with us,” he says. 

“But then once we’ve got you on board, we grab you by the neck and we don’t let you go.” 

Talk to Me (R16) is now open in cinemas nationwide.

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