The Black Phone (2021)
Title: The Black Phone
Genre: Horror | Thriller |
Runtime: 103 min
Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw
After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer’s previous victims.
Scott Derrickson’s earlier work includes both Sinister and Doctor Strange. One horror film and the other a superhero film. Good in their own way. Not a great film but decent from what he can achieve as a director. The Black Phone is an adaptation by Joe Hill, who wrote the short story based on a real serial killer.
Ethan Hawke has a key role. If it wasn’t for him, it wouldn’t be watchable perhaps but he’s barely in it. The siblings Finney and Gwen work together in their separate way to destroy the perpetrator. As the marketing has shown us is that this film doesn’t give an original take on the kidnapper-killer plot. Nothing new provides these characters thus presenting a tedious boring story with no tension or suspense.
There’s a long buildup for something to happen. When Finn finally gets kidnapped, he’s treated nice, he gets meals every day and has a conversation with his kidnapper The Grabber. Nothing bad happens to him which is frustrated for a horror film. He gets there and the story stands still. A stale mid-point. Although Finn talks to dead boys who talk to him in some weird way which is never explained fully. These boys help him to escape twice in the film. The only visible death is The Grabber death which has like two-three scenes that don’t interrupt the plot in many ways.
Also, we don’t get a deeper connection. Neither with Finn nor The Grabber in a satisfying way. Finn and his sister get beat up for sure and get bullied at school but nothing deep or emotional connection with this main character is made. Why the perpetrator used two houses for his criminal assets is never explained. There’s no vitality shown from this character, which is much needed. The whole second act is dragging on forever during the slow-paced section of the film. The films only show the important bits, never the emotional, deep developments which give it a film only on the surface. It’s not a complete waste of time but not something to prioritize.