Modern horror is a cesspool. There is loads of it about and it’s mostly crap, but every now and then, something decent actually comes along. Something like The Black Phone.
I had heard good things about the movie and was looking forward to seeing it. It’s now on streaming, so I sat down, with the lights off to enjoy it last night. I’m going to review this with little to no spoilers since it’s actually a movie worth watching.
Firstly, I wouldn’t say this is a horror movie as such, it’s a thriller with a supernatural edge to it. The Black Phone stars Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies, E Roger Mitchell and Troy Rudeseal.
It’s been directed by Scott Derrickson and written by him, Joe Hill and Robert Cargill, and based on a short story by Joe Hill. The basics of the story:
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.
The overall story is really good and very gripping, I found myself wondering what was going on, but at the same time, eager to find out. As I said, I’m not going to go too deep into the story, since it is very good and well thought out, although a tad predictable in places.
The main focus of The Black Phone is the acting and direction. Derrickson is known for things like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister and Deliver Us From Evil, all solid horror movies and well made. This is one of Derrickson’s, better movies. The tension, the photography, the style, it all works really well.
The two main stars, Thames and McGraw, are outstanding. There is a real trend in Hollywood at the moment to get kids who can actually act, and these two are no exception. Thames, who plays Flynn in the movie, pretty much has to carry the entire thing by himself, but he does it brilliantly.
You feel his fear, you really sympathise with him, he was really excellent. He shows his fear up against a wonderfully creepy Hawke, who is really good in this. You don’t really see him a lot as he wears a mask and the direction means you don’t really get a good look at him, but his performance is great.
This also doesn’t mention how good the rest of the cast is. All the kids in here play the parts very well and it worked for me on lots of levels. Derrickson really picked a great cast.
The movie is very dark and brutal in places, but it’s an excellent thriller. Creepy in places and just well done. After sitting through a lot of crappy horror movies this was a real treat and worth your time. As I said, it’s not really a horror, more of a tense thriller with a bit of spook thrown in.
I give The Black Phone a solid score. There are a couple of moments when the writing lets it down just a little but overall, I was on the edge of my seat.