The Black Phone

June 24, 202280/1006 min
Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies, Madeleine McGraw, Mason Thames
Written by
Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill (Screenplay) Joe Hill ( Short Story)
Directed by
Scott Derrickson
Run Time 1h 42min
Release date June 24th, 2022
Overall Score
Rating Summary

For those fans of Joe Hill, there is something, much like with his dad’s short stories, that seem to make the best movies. The Black Phone is one such story and with Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill adapting it for the screen, you wouldn’t be wrong to have high expectations. Set in Denver 1978, this is the story of a man called “The Grabber” in the neighborhood of the kids he tormented. This though isn’t modern rules for a film set in the late seventies, no this is a time when kids and parents were afraid of everything. What The Black Phone reminds us is that childhood can be cruel and kindness can be seen as weakness.

Finnely (Mason Thames) seems like to have a pretty normal life. He and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) live with a father( Jeremy Davies) who is having a hard time coping with the loss of their mother, his wife as he often turns to the bottle for comfort. It is that reason the two kids walk on pins and needles around him, having already been at plenty of receiving ends of their father’s belt. If their homelife wasn’t enough to be scared about, there is also a guy called “The Grabber”, who is kidnapping kids, who the cops can’t catch adding to their worries. It is Finnely who has the unfortunate luck to become the next victim of “The Grabber” (Ethan Hawke) as he’s taken and trapped in his basement. Soon though he learns he is not as alone as he thinks, as a black phone on the wall rings and on it are voices that want to help Finney. All he has to do is listen, so that he will not suffer the same fate as them.

The performances in The Black Phone are very strong in that they really stick out in such an intense story. Both kids are fantastic, with Thames really showing Finney’s intelligence and fear while going back and forth between hope and despair that are not often seen in a horror film. Meanwhile, Gwen as played by McGraw is much more of a bad ass than her brother and has the mouth and ways to stand up for herself. She is also given some of the films best lines and not going to lie, some of its best insults. When it is all said and done you know you just saw a star rising in McGraw. This isn’t a horror film where the boogeyman exists, no “The Grabber” is just not a good human and Hawke plays him to perfection as you don’t really know the whys behind him, but that he is just plain wicked. The story may be built like a house of cards, but the payoff is so good you really appreciate what Derrickson and Cargill did with Hill’s story, by creating something that feels truly terrifying. The Black Phone is the complete horror package, it has the thrills, the scares and a helluva cast! Even with the darkness it brings to the screen there is still enough light that you hope can lead you to the other side.

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