Director, Scott Derrickson is primarily known as a horror director, with the biggest of his work being The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister. These were both films that got him the job of working on Doctor Strange, where he was due to return to work on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, before he exited due to “creative differences” and Sam Raimi took over. The Black Phone was going to be his next project but jumped to the front of the queue when he got more free time, returning to what he knew best on the script he had written with C. Robert Cargill, who he had previously worked with on Sinister and Doctor Strange.
The Black Phone follows Finney (Mason Thames), a 13-year-old boy who gets abducted by The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) and locked in a basement. It’s in that basement he starts receiving calls from the attacker’s previous victims.
The film is perfectly tense. I put a lot of praise on Derrickson. It’s a well scripted story and perfectly paced. It isn’t as much of a horror, but rather a clever thriller that knows exactly what it is and has a good time doing so. The tone is nailed perfectly and doesn’t need the cheapness of jump scares, being smarter than what a typical horror would’ve done. It would’ve been easy to have this felt cheap, simple and lower than it is, but Derrickson deserves credit for delivering his best work yet.
The cast does a good job. The focus is very much on the children who are comfortably the leads of the film, and Ethan Hawke, the only well known actor in the film, very much has a background role. Mason Thames has a big future ahead of him. I have no doubt that off the back of this film he will get cast in a series as his star continues to grow. I think the same can be said for all the children that play a decent role in this film.
My biggest problem with the film is a simple one. It’s a plot device which is clearly used to give a character screen time and something to do. I don’t mind it, it’s just that it needs more of an explanation, without it just being hugely coincidental. A small problem that actually helps deliver a solid ending, just wish it was explained more.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Black Phone, it feels like it’s been a while since we last saw a solid horror/thriller film, and it particularly nails the ending, and then when you think about it, it makes it even better. Men may have divided audiences, but I think audiences will respond well to something that will carry them over until Nope in a month’s time.
What did you think of The Black Phone?
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