Never talk to strangers.
The Black Phone is a 2022 supernatural horror thriller film directed by Scott Derrickson, written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, produced by Blumhouse Pictures and Crooked Highway, and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is based off of Joe Hill's 2004 short story, The Black Phone. It stars Ethan Hawke and Mason Thames.
"Wanna see a magic trick?" - The Grabber
Thirteen-year-old Finney Shaw is a mild-mannered teenager who's worst nightmare comes true when he is abducted by a child serial killer called the Grabber. In the Grabber's basement, a broken black phone rings for Finney, connecting him with the voices of the Grabber's previous victims, who help him escape while time is running out.
My Favorite Part of The Black Phone
The Black Phone is directed by Scott Derrickson, who just creates a creative, fun, intense horror movie. The movie isn't particularly scary, but it will have you constantly on the edge of your seat. The way Derrickson is able to build tension through character moments is incredible. He draws on a chilling performance from Ethan Hawke as the Grabber to make sure you are never entirely comfortable. What's crazier is the hopeful tone that manages to shine through the bleak story. Stephen King described The Black Phone as Stand By Me in hell, and that's actually very accurate. There's optimism throughout the entire movie, and I really liked that. It makes this movie have a bit more emotion and weight than I was expecting.
My Least Favorite Part of The Black Phone
I've been noticing this a lot with movies lately, but this movie was just a little too simple for me. There is one main plotline and a subplot that really acts as a cousin to the main plot. There isn't really complexity to the characters. There's no depth or extra layers. I guess I was looking for a little bit more than what I was given. While the main plot is great and the characters are all really good, this movie feels very surface level. That isn't to say it's predictable or lazy, but it just feels like they could've (and should've) tried to do a little bit more. Safe is the word I'm looking for. It plays its cards close to the chest. And I wish it would've gone a bit more out there.
Why The Black Phone Is a Solid Horror Film
Despite not being all that scary, The Black Phone is a genius concept that's done very well. The acting, directing, and story are all above average. It's just a classic example of a very good movie. Is it great? No. But it has all of the qualities of a good, old-fashioned horror movie. Ethan Hawke's villain has become an instant icon, and for good reason. He can be terrifying. He can be disgusting. He can also be kind of funny. It all ties back to Scott Derrickson's masterful direction. He uses a unique and imaginative story to create a dark but optimistic horror movie that deserves the recognition it seems to be getting.
Final Thoughts and Score
The Black Phone is a wickedly creative and fun horror movie that has thrills, scares, and heart. Despite not being super clever or deep, this movie is definitely worth your time.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 13+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Fun Factor: 8/10
"The Black Phone"
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Rated R for strong bloody violence, frightening and intense scenes, language, thematic elements
Released on June 24, 2022
1 hour and 42 minutes
Mason Thames as Finney Blake
Madeleine McGraw as Gwen Blake
Ethan Hawke as The Grabber
Jeremy Davies as Terrence Blake
E. Roger Mitchell as Detective Wright
James Ransone as Max Shaw
Miguel Cazarez Mora as Robin Arellano