The Black Phone
October 6, 2022
If Stranger Things has taught us anything, it’s that the general population loves horror TV featuring teenagers in the 80s. Director Scott Derrickson saw this opportunity and wrote The Black Phone. This is the story of Finney Blake, a friendless boy who is kidnapped by the infamous ‘Grabber’ known for taking children and leaving black balloons at the scene of the abduction. Finney communicates with the ghosts of The Grabbers previous victims through the black rotary phone in the basement where he is held captive. He plans his escape while his psychic sister frantically searches for him, joined with police. This movie is 102 minutes of classic horror staples- jump scares, skin-crawling acting, and creative film methodology.
Cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz perfectly crafts the jump scares, keeping watchers on the edge of their seats with unsettling music and waiting just long enough to lull viewers into a sense of false security. Then, the shocker is quick, leaving everyone jolting out of their seats and cowering into their friends arms. Further, the entire movie feels like you’re about to be faced with an abrupt fright, creating an adrenaline filled watching experience.
Four time academy award nominee, Ethan Hawke, stars as The Grabber, alongside Mason Thames playing protagonist Finney. The two of them perfectly portray the intensely fearful power dynamic between the abducted and his abductor. As young as Thames is (only 15) he displays a miraculous emotional range and connects the viewers to Finney. Additionally, Hawke plays a psychopath alarmingly well. From the lilt he applies in his voice to the eerie body language and unpredictable behavior, Hawke portrays a horrifically demented man that is sure to haunt your nightmares.
Beyond this, producers continue to wow the audience with their creative cinematography. Scenes in which a high power is supposed to be present, they shoot from above, looking down on the character and showing their vulnerability. In the basement, the camera alternates between showing the protagonist’s viewpoint and a wider angle. This displays the dynamic between characters and setting, while also keeping a level of connection between the watcher and the character, something many horror films struggle to do. The Black Phone was a great movie that any and all thriller fans should watch.