The Black Phone is set in a 1970s tale preceding the internet, cellphones, and Amber Alerts. It takes place in a time when serial killers and kidnappings were excessive and difficult to resolve due to less advancements. Director Scott Derrickson has stated in other interviews that he is not a nostalgic person. Where some see the past through rose-colored glasses, he has a less favorable outlook about the "good old days."
Joe Hill''s short story of the same name may be seen as a result of this development in isolation and disconnected atmosphere. Despite its isolation and a disconnect, the Black Phone thrives in the age of feeling powerless against monsters lurking at night. It''s a horror story that has a realising desire to overcome abuse and trauma.
Finney Shaw (Madeleine McGraw) is an alcoholic with anger issues and abusive tendencies. One scene involving his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) will be triggering for some viewers. At school, Finney is constantly bullied and beaten by fellow classmates.
Meanwhile, young boys in the neighborhood are disappearing, being abducted by a stranger the dubbed "The Grabber." Finney''s little sister has visions of the kidnappings and knows details that only the cops should know, thus adding to the tension in the home when the cops begin pressed Gwen.
Finney herself comes face-to-face with The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) and is ripped from the streets in broad daylight. Finally, the story introduces itself into a mostly one-setting survival film when Finney is placed in a cemented basement with only one door to escape, guarded by an unsettling Ethan Hawke with horns and a devilishly wide smile.
The empowerment comes into play with the addition of an additional supernatural element. Inside this basement prison is a black phone that keeps ringing despite being disconnected. The Grabber is also known as assisting "Finney boy" in maneuvering a way to survive his malevolent kidnapper.
Hawke''s portrayal of The Grabber will squeak one''s skin as he makes offensive remarks to Finney, which might be described as perverted or violent. This is some of Hawke''s best works, while demonstrating a man who has self-disgust and self-disconnection from his homosexuality. Between this film and Moon Knight, he continues to demonstrate that he is an extremely underrated performer.
The film''s screenplay features actors who have a unique ability to express genuine vulnerability, thus making him feel disgruntled. Although these scenes are frightening, the performance is astonishing. She is a talented artist who has a unique attitude.
The script itself is one of the finest adaptations of a Joe Hill story. There are scenes from Stand by Me, while films that reflected youth''s camaraderie in overcoming fear. There are even sprinkles of influence from Wes Craven''s The People Under the Stairs (an extremely underrated horror film.)That was another film depicting victimized youth fighting back against their tormentor.
The Black Phone isn''t without its flaws. A third-act surprise story reveal that requires some gymnastics in the suspension of the disbelief department. It''s a tiny nitpick in a sea of well-made decisions. However, this is exactly what it takes to describe this one setback without giving up spoilers.
The Black Phone is a tense, heartfelt, and a gentle throwback horror encounter. Scott Derrickson''s return to horror after dealing with Doctor Strange is proving that he is a master in the genre. It''s a reminder that although the present may not seem as wonderful as the present, the lack of connection and access to information from the days before the internet had its hurdles. Although the days when kidnapped children were difficult to recover may not be as nostalgic as people.
The Black Phone is set to be released in theaters on June 24.