Ethan Hawke unleashes his sinister side in The Black Phone.
Blumhouse struck gold with The Black Phone, an adaptation of the 2004 short story by Joe Hill, the son of Stephen King. The film stars Ethan Hawke as The Grabber which is the most terrifying role of his career. It is produced, directed, and co-written by Scott Derrickson, the writer-director of Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Marvel’s Doctor Strange.
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. However, 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.
The Black Phone is a slow-burning suspense thriller with a handful of horror elements. It leans more into the supernatural side of things but tells a compelling story about “The Grabber” terrorizing a small neighborhood. Ethan Hawke’s performance is something we have never seen before. He emotes vividly, despite wearing a mask most of the time.
The young cast featuring Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw delivered a great performance as young heroes. Despite being Rated R, it could have easily been a PG-13 horror flick by just cutting out the F-bombs. Instead, the movie drops the ball by not answering vital questions about The Grabber. One burning question is what is the story behind the mask. As a result, Derrickson missed many opportunities to connect more dots and dive deeper into the sinister story.
I give Black Phone 3.5 out of 5 stars. It could have been more frightful, but it is an eerie and suspenseful film with solid performances all around. Watch it in theaters beginning June 24th.