The Black Phone

Original horror movies can be hard to come by. Earlier this year we got a new Scream, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre and in October another Halloween is coming out. “The Black Phone”, now playing is a great example of horror filmmaking. It is based on the short story by Joe Hill, who is the son of Stephen King and it is easy to say that the “apple does not fall far from the tree.”

The year is 1978 and a small Colorado town is being stalked by a figure known as The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) who kidnaps children. Young Finney (Mason Thames) becomes his latest victim. He is kept in a soundproof basement that only has a cot and a disconnected black phone. However, Finny starts to get phone calls from the past victims. The question becomes, can they help him survive when they could not?

Scott Derrickson directs this soon to be horror classic. He made another great original horror movie almost ten years ago called “Sinister” and he shows once again he has the chops to make another scary piece of cinema. This is not one of your mindless serial killer stories of people getting hacked up. Here, real tension is constantly being built with masterful jump scares being thrown in at the exact perfect time. Derrickson really knows how to set a tone by how he shoots the film, wonderful imagery along with an eerie score.

Other tools were also utilized to help make this such a creepy affair. When some of the past victims were being referenced, you then see scratchy home movies of them growing up until the Grabber takes them, leaving his signature black balloons behind. The Grabber always wears a mask, each one scarier than the last.

The horror genre is not usually known for its high-quality acting performances, but I dare anyone to find a weak one in “The Black Phone”. Hawke seriously embraces playing the villain. Mason Thames was able to keep pace with the veteran actor step by step as he also had many scenes by himself where he keeps the audience rooting for him every step of the way. Madeleine McGraw is Gwen, Finney’s sister and she steals every scene she is on screen.

Not too many horror pictures come out during the summer movie season. There is always big competition with the big blockbusters coming out on almost a weekly basis. However, “The Black Phone” is on of those special gems that people who don’t normally embrace the genre can really enjoy.

3.5 swords