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“The Black Phone”; You’d Better Pick Up…

today23 June 2022


While this film doesn’t actually have plot twists, it’s still pretty good at teasing red herrings that will raise alarm bells to keep you guessing. 

Co-adapted from a short story of the same name by Joe Hill, and brought to life through the eyes of director Scott Derrickson of Doctor Strange and Sinister, this film will send chills down your spine. While the jumpscares are minimal, they are effective – so effective they might scar you for a little while (speaking from experience).

Image via Blumhouse Productions

The protagonist of the film, Finney, played by newcomer Mason Thames, is a high school student who deals with bullies. His younger sister, Gwen (played by Madeleine McGraw) on the other hand, holds her ground more firmly compared to him and serves as his protector – and also may or may not possess the gift of clairvoyance. Their sibling bond is also put on display when their loving, yet volatile father is around, with a glass or bottle of liquor in one hand like an accessory to his inner demons.

Image via Blumhouse Productions

While school seems like hell on earth for young Finney, his fate is about to take a turn for the worse when he gets kidnapped by a mask-clad Ethan Hawke (of The Purge and Moon Knight fame). Time begins ticking away for Finney as he attempts to escape his situation, and for Gwen to reach deep within her psyche to look for clues.

And if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know that Gwen is not the only one trying to help Finney…

Image via Blumhouse Productions

To classify this film solely as a horror film feels a little unfair, as it contains a lot of heart and plays on multiple strings such as family and friendship ties. One may even question the parallel between the assailant (referred to as The Grabber) and the main character’s father. And if you’re a fan of Stephen King’s work – especially It – you may feel like these two films occur in the same universe. Kidnapped children in the 80s? The significance of balloons? Here’s a fun-fact: Hill is the son of King, who is a writer in his own right, with a different surname so as to step out from the shadows of his father.

Image via Getty Images / Emma McIntyre

Another thing that stands out is the amazing acting from the children in the film, especially a heart-wrenching scene featuring McGraw that will leave you feeling uncomfortable to say the least. Acclaimed actor Hawke, of course, flexes his amazing acting chops as the deranged antagonist with only his body language and tone of voice, sealing a new peak in his career in the horror genre. 

Now The Black Phone is a horror film for sure, but if you look at it from another angle, it’s also a coming-of-age film about a teenage boy whose rite of passage is a little…harsher compared to most.

*Cover image via Blumhouse Productions

Written by: Farah Qistina

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