PLOT: A young boy (Mason Thames) is kidnapped by a notorious serial killer nicknamed Graber (Ethan Hawke). There are only a few days left before the invader kills him, and he is helped by a mysterious black phone that connects him to the deceased former victims of Graber.
OVERVIEW: Black phone is a great example of an ever-popular genre: a horror film about growing up. This is a genre that has been revived in recent years thanks to These are: Chapter 1 & 2. Why is this type of horror movie so effective? On the one hand, they beat on nostalgia, but also remind how scary everything was in childhood. About 10 to 14 years old has a window if you’re old enough to have some independence but young enough to make your neighborhood seem huge. The foreign world is completely unknown. There is nothing worse than what exists in your community, be it a horrible house on the street or a park where we are told not to walk after dark.
Black phonefrom director Scott Derrickson (which he co-wrote with K. Robert Cargill), based on the novel Joe Hill, and it’s a little movie. In 1978, we are talking about a suburb that terrorizes a serial killer known as “Happer”. Enter Mason Thames as Feeney Shaw. He’s a good kid, but easy prey for bullies at school. Things are not much better at home, with his father humiliatingly drunk. The only silver for him is his sister Gwen (Madeline McGraw), who always holds on to her back, even though she is younger and half a liter in size. And yes, she can also be a psychic. One by one, Finny’s classmates are killed by Grabber, and soon his time comes and he finds himself locked in the killer’s basement.
Sounds grim, right? In fact, this is not the case, as Feeney is taught to fight the spirits of Graber’s previous victims, who talk to him on the front phone and want to help him escape. Derrickson’s method for displaying spirits is unique in that we essentially see their bloody ghosts, but their voices are distorted to make it sound as if they are sounding over the phone. Meanwhile, it’s a race against time when Gwen is somehow trying to use her power to steer the police in the right direction.
There are many reasons why Black phone works so well. One is related to the nostalgic period and Derrickson’s obvious experience with horror. But the most important is probably the cast, especially the two young lead roles, Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw. If you don’t take care of the kids in a movie like this, it won’t work, but both young actors are wonderful. They feel like real children in what they say to their parents and have moments of naivety. But they also evoke a sense of firmness that may have been more common in children in another era because they essentially took care of themselves all their lives because their dad is such a mess. But even Jeremy Davis, as an abusive drunken dad, evokes some sympathy, making him a less disgusting character than you think and one who can change.
And, of course, there is still Ethan Hawke in the role of invader. Hawk only rarely played villains, but here he is horrified by his hoarse whispers, long hair and anxious mask. It is used sparingly and most often behind the scenes. It works great and it creates a really scary bad guy who feels too real. My only caveat here is that Graber allegedly killed five children from the same area, but only two police officers seem to be involved in the case. The parents seem to be very chilled to all of this. In fact, the FBI and possibly even the National Guard would have been summoned, while concerned parents would probably have patrolled the streets with bats and weapons (the hysteria surrounding such an event was well caused in Halloween kills). Unfortunately, I suppose there is a small thing called the cessation of unbelief.
Suffice it to say Black phone a solid and pretty perfect little horror movie. Hopefully it will get a reliable cinema because this movie can be watched by a large crowd if it has ever been. They have a commodity with that.