The Black Phone

Never talk to strangers.

Horror Thriller
103 min     7.996     2022     USA


Finney Shaw, a shy but clever 13-year-old boy, is abducted by a sadistic killer and trapped in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use. When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.


CinemaSerf wrote:
The thing about adapting a short story for cinema is that we tend to get a great deal of padding to get it to the duration. This film is certainly guilty of that, with the first half hour spent on way too much character establishment that really has very little to do with the gist of the story. Once it does get going though, it's a cleverly crafted and well put together scary movie centred around "Finn" (Mason Thames). Bullied at school, he is protected by his friend "Robin" (Miguel Cazarez Mora) until he disappears. He isn't the first child to disappear either, indeed five from this small community have gone missing over the last few weeks. "Finn" is walking home after school when he encounters a man who has dropped his groceries. Offering to help, next thing he knows he is in a grubby basement with only a soiled mattress and a disconnected phone on the wall. His mask-clad captor - who has something of the "Joker" about him - insists he is in no danger, but the phone on the wall starts to ring and the callers - the other five victims - warn him otherwise, and help him to try to best his nemesis. There are one or two jump moments, but mostly there is an effectively accumulating sense of menace well fuelled by confident efforts from Thames and his sister "Gwen" (Madeleine McGraw) who might have inherited her mother's ability to see the future in dreams - a skill that may prove vital in helping the police save her brother from certain death. There are violent undertones, but very little actual violence is shown as the young man comes to terms with some of his own demons and to try to escape. The last ten minutes redeem it well, and there is something distinctly satisfying about the conclusion. Scott Derrickson has provided us with one of the better Blumhouse dramas of recent years that is sure worth a watch.
Chris Sawin wrote:
With supernatural dread lifted directly from the likes of _Stir of Echoes_ and _The Sixth Sense_, _The Black Phone_ features a breakthrough performance from Madeleine McGraw while Ethan Hawke’s hauntingly memorable turn as The Grabber is felt in a hair-raising sense; like someone who has unknowingly snuck up behind you and waits in your peripheral for that dramatic reveal. _The Black Phone_ is a solid, pulse racing horror film that packs a punch, but seems like the type of film that simply won’t be as delectable on repeat viewings. **Full review:**
MSB wrote:
FULL SPOILER-FREE REVIEW @ "The Black Phone carries a horror premise with a supernatural touch full of potential, but it plays too safe by betting on a narrative that's too simple, predictable, and repetitive. Scott Derrickson elevates his work with a distinct style, and the fact that the main focus belongs to the protagonists development rather than on generic jumpscares pleases me. Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw are, without a doubt, the most impressive elements of the entire film, delivering two of the best performances by young actors of the last decade. Ethan Hawke is underused, just like his unexplored character. I recommend it, but personally, I expected something more creative." Rating: C+
Nathan wrote:
The Black Phone is a paranormal abduction thriller that balances the tension/despair of being trapped and the ghost elements very well. The movie does a great job setting up the main characters in the beginning that gives you a relationship with them and genuine desire for them to succeed. There are a few plot points that are a little questionable, but are they are minor nitpicks and didn’t pull me out of the story too much. The performances all around were great. Ethan Hawke does fantastic in his limited screen time. He conveys the mental state of the Grabber with such nuance, it really makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. The children do very well too, especially in the more emotionally heavy scenes. A few of the classmates performances in the beginning were a bit awkward. Overall, I had a great time with this movie and it is a testament to the directors and writers that they could adapt such a creative thriller from a short story. **Verdict:** _Great_
Horseface wrote:
I had to abandon this very early on, as I couldn't see anything. I'm pretty sure it was daytime, because kids were going to school, but it was so darkly lit that it looked like late dusk. I think there was a sun in the sky, but it might have been a firefly. I put my TV on "vivid," but it couldn't remedy the problem. Maybe there's a good movie in here, but the production is clearly broken, so if you have an HDR TV, you won't be able to see anything.