Title: The Black Phone
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw
This film is a Blumhouse production – Blumhouse is known for making horror films, and to be honest, some of them have either been a hit or a miss – and never in between. Once I heard about this film, I thought I would be interested, especially after learning that Scott Derrickson would be directing it. I am familiar with Scott’s work and directing in films such as Sinister and Sinister 2, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Dr Strange, to name a few.
I watched this film at the end of last year, while I was off sick from work. I had wanted to watch it in the cinemas, but it was no longer available when I tried to watch it. When I saw the trailer a few months back, I was completely sold on it.
The Black Phone is a supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson, based on a short story written by Joe Hill of the same name. It is set in 1978, where a serial child abductor and murderer, nicknamed ‘The Grabber’ (portrayed by Ethan Hawke), is on the prowl in a suburb kidnapping children, leaving nothing behind except their bicycle – if they had one and a black balloon in the area, he abducts them from.
His latest victim, Finney Blake (portrayed by Mason Thames), lives with his alcoholic widower father, Terrance (portrayed by Jeremy Davies) and his younger sister Gwen (portrayed by Madeleine McGraw). Finney is taken to a basement dungeon where an unconnected black phone is on the wall. The phone mysteriously rings, and each time ends up being a different person – each one of The Grabber’s victims. Using the phone, they help him find ways to escape – giving him advantages over The Grabber. As Finney tries to break out, his sister, Gwen – who has clairvoyant psychic dreams, tries to work out the location of The Grabber to track Finney before it is too late.
It has been a long time since I have watched a film where I liked the child actors’ performances. The Black Phone relies on the majority of the children’s role to carry the film, and it does not fall short one bit – in my opinion, they carried it well and even did better than the adult actors. Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw did an outstanding job in their roles. You believed the pain that Madeleine portrayed; she was the best performance out of the entire cast. You believed the fear that Finney and the other kidnapped kids felt.
Ethan Hawke did a great job playing the Grabber, also. Initially, I was hesitant to believe him to be a villain, but after seeing him in the Moon Knight tv series, I was no longer hesitant, and I am glad about that. With this role, I felt like I wanted more – I wanted to know why the grabber did what he did – I wanted to know his story, which is credited to how Ethan portrayed him.
Overall, I was impressed – from start to end, the film hooked me. It didn’t feel overrun; it didn’t feel like it was too short. It was just right. With a 103-minute runtime, I can honestly say that it did not feel like a long film – which I enjoyed.