Today I can finally share with you my review of The Black Phone. It was originally scheduled for release on June 30th but pushed back to July 21st in Australia. I’ve never been a patient person, so seeing the rest of the world raving about it while I had to wait, was frustrating. However, my time eventually came and I got tickets to an early screening. Let me tell you, it was worth it! If you didn’t know, this horror film follows Finney Shaw, a shy but clever teenage boy, who is held in a soundproof basement by a sadistic, masked killer called The Grabber (played by Ethan Hawke). When a disconnected phone on the wall starts to ring, he soon discovers that he can hear the voices of the murderer’s previous victims – and they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them, doesn’t happen to Finney. Without further ado, let’s get into it! Spoilers ahead!
If you enjoyed Scott Derrickson’s: Sinister, you should be a fan of The Black Phone. It has a similar ‘droning’ type score and cinematography. I also want to commend the acting, in particular the siblings, Finney and Gwen Shaw. They truly stole the show. Their bond and love for one another had me in tears. Furthermore, I have to mention Ethan Hawke’s sensational performance as The Grabber. He was unlike any villain I had seen before. It felt like he was fighting a war within himself. You never truly knew what he was thinking. Similar to IT, this movie is set in the past (the 70’s) and focuses on missing children that were taken by a monster holding balloons. Some people speculate that Pennywise uses red balloons to entice children, whilst The Grabber uses black to show his contempt for them. We also witness a scene where Gwen is riding her bicycle in a yellow raincoat, much like Georgie Denbrough. As IT is my favourite horror novel and film, I was all for these parallels. Finally, I have to mention the soundtrack. Each song and piece of music fit perfectly with the gritty, gloomy atmosphere.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK:
I read the short story by Joe Hill and my biggest issue with both the film and novella, was the lack of backstory on The Grabber. Who was he? Why did he kidnap children? In the movie, why did he wear that particular mask? There were a lot of unanswered questions. In the final battle scene, Finney pulls off his mask and The Grabber screams in fright at being exposed. Why? Is The Grabber supernatural? I also wish we had seen more of the villain in general. He wasn’t featured as much as I would have liked. The minimal context left me a little bit unsatisfied. Furthermore, I’m surprised his brother Max (who lived in the same house) never saw him dressed up or the children he was murdering. Finally, I know some people hate jump scares but I don’t mind them. Just be warned, this movie has a few of them.
OVERALL STAR RATING:
I gave it 4/5 stars. It was a solid horror film that I believe the majority would enjoy.
Thank you so much for reading! Let me know if you’ve seen The Black Phone. Did you like it?
Peace & Love xoxo