A teenager is abducted by a child murderer and finds his
escape aided by the spirits of the killer's previous victims.
The Black Phone (2022)
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill
Starring Mason Thames, Ethan Hawke, Madeleine McGraw,
Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Ransone
Based on the short story by Joe Hill
It's becoming harder and harder to scare people these days. Part of it is reality is so much scarier than fiction lately, but part of it is fatigue and a lack of faith in wide-released horror movies. Being original, standing out, and being memorable are not easy feats. Few films accomplish all three. The Black Phone is a breath of fresh air and one of the creepiest horror films of the year. Clearly, Joe Hill has inherited his father's storytelling prowess, and the writing team of Derrickson and Cargill were the guys to bring his story to life.
First off, major props to Ethan Hawke, who delivers what may be his finest performance yet as the unnamed Grabber. He's a maniacal child murderer who is five victims deep before he abducts our hero, thirteen-year-old Finney (Thames, who is set to be a major talent over the next few years. What a performance). Trapped in a basement, Finney's only company is a haunted phone that rings thanks to the spirits of the Grabber's previous victims, who want to help Finney escape and stop the psycho's killing spree. Meanwhile, Finney's sister Gwen (McGraw, who is also insanely good) is having visions of the Grabber's house and is struggling to understand why. There are so many creepy, unsettling moments in this film, mostly thanks to Ethan Hawke's transformation.
The Black Phone is a terrifying horror flick and a great return to form for Derrickson and Cargill. That isn't to say I didn't love Doctor Strange, but Sinister was something special. And now with this, I hope these two crank out more modern horror classics like this.