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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Yeh

The Black Phone Rings: Here Come Scary Things

The Black Phone, in the absence of a decent horror movie this year, has filled an important void.

Ring. Ring.


The Black Phone is a horror/thriller movie directed by Scott Derrickson. In the absence of a solid horror movie for a while, this movie has filled an important void. Watching the trailer, it seemed promising, and I had enjoyed Ethan Hawke's previous films. Derrickson's track record has also been impressive, as he directed the first Doctor Strange and Sinister, along with a few other horror movies. Sinister is one of my favorite horror films, so I was looking forward to watching this one.

Daring Directing

Scott Derrickson's directing style is very distinct, as he uses similar methods to scare his audience in all his movies. He likes to focus on one character as the main protagonist, who eventually makes it out of the antagonist's grasp. The Black Phone differs from many horror movies as the main antagonist does not involve the supernatural. This movie applies more to real life and features kidnappers who generally are known to torture their abductees. While Sinister is scarier than this movie, The Black Phone had its fair share of horror. Ethan Hawke, as the antagonist, was also portrayed in a different role than usual, as he usually plays the good guy. I wish he were a bit scarier than he was, but Hawke's insanity was displayed quite well.

Acting and Ambiance

The actors did an excellent job. I had my doubts, being that the movie contained primarily young actors, but all of them played their part well. The two main characters, Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwenny (Madeleine McGraw) were great. The maturity they displayed felt so real, as their environment growing up shaped them to act older than they were. The other children did a good job as well, even though they all had small parts. The kids did a better job being scary than Hawke himself, but I believe that was Derrickson's intention.

The costumes and ambiance of the movie were also nailed spot on. Quite a few horror movies take place in the '70s, and this is yet another. The costumes fit the characters well, and the suburbs somehow set a chilling mood. It's an excellent period to set the movie in, and it fits the genre nicely. The constant dark lighting transformed this film into a thriller as well. Blumhouse has always been good at setting their movie's desired tone properly, and they have pulled through yet again.

Closing Critiques

The storyline isn't bad for a thriller, and there was just enough suspense to keep my attention. The movie is relatively short, leading to a faster-paced tempo. The deeper meaning in the film was well executed, as the protagonist overcomes past childhood problems to face the threat that loomed over him. His character development was done beautifully, as he transformed from a timid kid to a confident young adult by the film's end. All in all, this is not a must-watch movie, but I would give it a chance.

Raving Rating: 6.9

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