There are excellent films that we shouldn’t know too much about before we watch them. Only then can we fully enjoy the film’s surprises. Now, Scott Derrickson not only surprises us with such an ingenious film highlight. Rather, he shows Ethan Hawke in what is probably his darkest role. In addition, Derrickson presents us with Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw, two young stars who simply amaze us in the horror masterpiece The Black Phone.
THE BLACK PHONE IS RINGING – THE STORY
Almost every day, we can see on the news that terrible things are happening in our world. Of course, we are particularly affected when children and young people are harmed. In the 1970s, a series of serial killers terrified small towns in the United States. These tragic reals stories created the template for The Black Phone.
In a small town in Colorado, a kidnapper, the so-called Grabber, is up to mischief. He targets teenage boys. So far, five boys have disappeared. Including the young Robin, Finney Shaw’s best friend. Until his disappearance, Robin protected the young baseball pitcher and showed him how to assert himself.
13-year-old Finney is very intelligent and introverted. As a result, he is often bullied by his classmates. Until the day, he disappears without a trace and finds himself in a dark cellar. There is only an old mattress. And there is a black phone on the wall. But how stupid that its cables are cut. Finney is scared, he is alone. And the grabber is playing a dirty game with him. It’s dark and quiet. Until the broken black phone rings suddenly.
THE BLACK PHONE LIST (THE CAST)
FINNEY AKA MASON THAMES & GWEN AKA MADELEINE MCGRAW
Finney’s reserved demeanor has a reason. Because his mother had a special gift. In her dreams, she could foresee certain events. Unfortunately, however, she succumbed to her visions, which she passed on to her daughter Gwen.
Aside from Robin, sweet Gwen is Finney’s best friend. The siblings stick together. And yet Gwen is different from Finney. She is cheeky and confident. In addition, she is not afraid of her dreams. But on the contrary. Gwen tries to use her power to help her brother in his distress.
It’s hard to imagine that The Black Phone is Mason Thames’ big-screen debut. The actor, who will be celebrating his 15th birthday on July 10, is acting brilliantly like he’s never done anything else. Probably, a good basis for his performance should be his ballet studies.
He started to dance as a small boy. As the youngest member of a professional ballet company, the pretty boy even toured the country for four years until he was discovered for the Apple TV series “For All Mankind”. The Black Phone lives from the dense atmosphere and good story, as well as from Mason Thames’ sensitive and stunning acting.
Madeleine McGraw has a little more screen experience. In the Marvel blockbuster Ant-Man and The Wasp, she played the young Hope. We also know Madeleine from productions like Secrets of Sulfur Springs, Cars 3, Pacific Rim Uprising, Toy Story 4, The Mandela Effect, and others.
TERRENCE AKA JEREMY DAVIES
F Finney and Gwen’s close bond is also based on their father’s behavior. Terrence never got over the death of his wife. Rather, he has indulged in alcohol out of pain and takes his whims out on Gwen in particular. She reminds him too much of his wife. Also, because of her dreams and visions. In his frustration, Terrence even forbids Gwen to dream. If she does, he hits her. You can find out if his attitude changes with Finney’s kidnapping in The Black Phone.
We know Jeremy Davis from Spanking the Monkey. He also played Corporal Upham in Saving Private Ryan and Charles Manson in Helter Skelter. Series fans also know him as Daniel Faraday on the ABC series Lost.
THE GRABBER – ETHAN HAWKE
Who is behind the terrifying mask of the nasty grabber you will see in The Black Phone. However, we know, of course, the actor behind the disgusting mask very well. Although Ethan Hawke has hitherto been known to us more as a beautiful actor from films like Gattaca (at the time alongside his then-wife Uma Thurman). Ethan was also nominated for his performances in Boyhood (2014), Training Day (2001), and the Before trilogy (2013/14).
Certainly, Ethan Hawke is expected to receive another nomination for The Black Phone next year. It’s definitely one of the best roles of his career. Because he plays the grabber so convincingly that even hardened horror junkies will get goosebumps.
THE DIRECTOR – SCOTT DERRICKSON
When I met the likable director at the Doctor Strange premiere, I had no idea what he was made of. Of course, the Marvel Blockbuster was a real hit. And The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Sinister, and Deliver Us from Evil were no less impressive.
However, with The Black Phone, Scott Derrickson presents a real film gem that is second to none. The film has nothing to do with the mighty CGI fireworks a la Marvel. Derrickson allows the actors to act in the smallest room. With the screenplay, in which he also participated, he creates a density that binds the viewers to their armchairs.
THE BLACK PHONE REVIEW
That brings us to our review. The Black Phone is a real horror movie that hasn’t existed in that way in a long time.
The film addresses the inner fears, makes us shudder, and in some scenes really cringe. In the moments when the Black Phone rings, goosebumps arise immediately. One thing is certain, the sound of the bell goes until your bones. The rest of the picture and sound is also awesome. In addition, the few special effects achieve their effect in a nutshell.
But The Black Phone isn’t just for horror fans. Because it’s actually a coming-of-age story on many levels. It’s a story of friendship beyond death. Besides, it is also a story of togetherness, love, and trust. The play of the three main characters is so brilliant that it captivates us, the audience, and lets us forget reality.
The imagery, which takes us back to the 70s, is as intriguing as it is realistic. It creates a real connection to the sad events that happened back then and which still cause horror and grief in a similar form, again and again, all over the world.
The Black Phone does not allow any insight into the psyche of a perpetrator who abuses and kills children. However, in return, it grants us a deep connection to the feelings, fears, and hopes of the casualties. And it’s precisely this close connection that makes us hope and fear with Finney until the end. It makes the film so emotional. Moreover, these emotions are driven to the point of euphoria by Scott Derrickson and the wonderful actors, Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, and Ethan Hawke.
Thus, The Black Phone is the perfect film for anyone who enjoys profound coming-of-age stories and wants to shudder a little. For us, The Black Phone is the hit of the summer of 2022 alongside The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Therefore, and because of its special individuality, we inevitably must give the film the full 10 points. So off to the cinema!