Talk To Me: How Kiwi-Samoan actor Chris Alosio found himself in the year's biggest horror movie

New Zealand actor Chris Alosio is having a moment.

After the success of local film Millie Lies Low in 2021, in which he co-starred with The Breaker Upperers' Ana Scotney, Alosio is about to go stratospheric with the part of teenager Joss in new film Talk To Me, a low-budget horror flick that's big on scares and has been showered in praise.

The story follows a group of Australian teens who find themselves able to communicate with spirits from the dead after two of them (Joss and Hayley played respectively by Alosio and Wentworth actor Zoe Terakes) bring an apparently possessed ceramic hand to a party. One of the group, a recently bereaved Mia (Sophie Wilde) hopes the hand can connect her to her dead mother.

Loosely, Talk To Me is a traditional horror but scratch below the surface and the film's themes of grief, mental health and addiction bubble away, providing a more psychological bent to the typical cinematic scare-fare.

Released by the critically acclaimed studio A24, the flick was a massive hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival and has already seen plaudits dished out by critics, a response born-and-raised Wellingtonian Alosio tells Newshub he's more than surprised at.

"It kind of feels like it's taken over the horror world for a bit. It's awesome to be a part of something like that, especially as a Samoan kid from New Zealand. A lot of my preparation was going through horror movies and I was like, 'Oh shucks, there's not really many Samoans in horror movies'.

"It's just an awesome privilege to be a part of something that an international audience has taken a liking to," he beams.

There are terrifying moments in Talk To Me.
There are terrifying moments in Talk To Me. Photo credit: A24

The film was directed by Australian filmmaking twins Danny and Michael Philippou, who run a phenomenally popular YouTube channel under the moniker of the RackaRacka Brothers. 

Alosio and the brothers bonded and while he'd initially read for another part, the directors didn't feel it was right for him - but instead had the role of Joss in mind.

"The brief that was put on the table was for another character in the film, and then it kind of came back a year later when the shoot got pushed, they were like, 'Hey, look, we're thinking of this guy, he's actually based on a friend of ours'. They were like 'can you hit those elements?'

"We had a crack and I had a little more fun playing Joss, and it opened up a little more space for improv on the set."

That improv extended past his acting, with the RackaRacka Brothers asking Alosio to play them some of the music he listened to to try and get everyone in the party mood for some of the initial scenes. 

That led to South Auckland hip-hop collective SWIDT booming from the speakers - and ultimately garnered them a spot on Talk To Me's official soundtrack.

But while the vibe on set was fairly jovial for a film that is about possession, spirits and the afterlife, Alosio confides in Newshub that offset, the cast occasionally felt something else - and perhaps more sinister - was going on.

"It's all tomato sauce at the end of the day mate," he laughs when asked about some of the gorier elements, before revealing: "It definitely had an eerie feeling to it, like a lot of the actors were talking about how there were just weird things happening in our accommodation. You could just hear sounds, doors closing on their own - you were like 'Oh shucks, we're doing a movie about spirits and they might actually come'."

Chris Alosio says the atmosphere off-set on Talk To Me was as spooky as the film.
Chris Alosio says the atmosphere off-set on Talk To Me was as spooky as the film. Photo credit: A24

But Alosio says a lot of the movie's appeal is the fact it dealt with issues faced by teenagers. He's hopeful many parents in the audience may think twice about leaving their kids to their own devices.

"You can see that through Miranda Otto's character [who plays the mother of two of the characters], just how naive she is. The thing I love about this film is there's a commentary on peer pressure today and how social media plays a big part in that.

"Even my older cousins would try and play with spirits for fun because they had nothing better to do. Like 'it's really late on a Friday night, should we possibly try to talk to a ghost or something'."

However, Alosio told Newshub the film became even more personal after it had been completed.

"Before we got a first chance to watch it, my mum passed away," he says, becoming visibly emotional, his voice cracking as the conversation continues.

"That was something that hit me, hit me really hard. I already knew what was in the script, but to see the way that [it unfolded], was tough.

"[After we'd seen it], I just went up to Sophia (who plays Mia, the bereaved daughter) and I just said 'thank you', because in the film we see what Mia goes through. And in a lot of ways it's like this is just a stupid teenager who's hooked on a drug, you know? But being in that position, I would do the same [as the character] and I justified everything she did. It's very genuine to the human experience."

Talk To Me's horror elements have been praised in critical reviews.
Talk To Me's horror elements have been praised in critical reviews. Photo credit: A24

As Newshub's time with Alosio nears its end, talk turns to possible sequels and prequels, something which he's tight-lipped about ("there's a lot of unanswered questions and not something that I'll say will be addressed, but needs to be addressed"), as well as whether the film has changed his perception of the spirit world.

"Yeah, 100 percent. It's a dangerous thing eh, because, you know we just don't know. And a lot of the time in the film,  they just don't know what they're dealing with. All I can say is I didn't like horror movies before this for that reason. And I still don't," he laughs, a wide smile growing across his face.

"Nah, I love being on the filming and seeing a lot of the work that goes into the practical effect and where we have to go as an actor as well in order to access those things to make it believable to a wide audience.

"Yeah, I definitely wouldn't touch it in real life. I'm good with beers mate!"

Talk To Me is in cinemas now.