The Black Phone

Scott Derrickson’s new horror thriller, The Black Phone, is a unique blend of a supernatural thriller with serial killer elements. It does have jump scares to unsettle you. But the placement of the movie is primarily as a survival thriller, and the clever usage of the ghost track makes this thriller an extremely compelling watch.

The story here is set in 1978. A child abductor has been in the news for some time and has already taken a few kids in the neighborhood. Finney and Gwen are siblings who live in the same town. They have an abusive father, and the siblings are highly supportive of each other. The story takes an exciting turn when Finney gets abducted by The Grabber. We see his efforts to get out from there and Gwen’s parallel efforts to find her brother in The Black Phone.

As I said, the experience becomes quite interesting since the story blends two different genres. And only our hero is aware of the supernatural track happening. Usually, when we see horror films, we expect a scary bit to occur in a particular area. Here, the survival drama style somewhere makes us do certain calculations and predictions. The aid Finney gets during his time in the secret basement has an emotional layer to its credit, and it doesn’t feel like a shortcut for the writers to conclude things.

Mason Thames as Finney was brilliant. Thames portrayed the insecurities of Finney and his gradual transformation with great confidence. Madeleine McGrew as Gwen is a peculiar character with great intelligence, and the child actor was able to pull off that character very convincingly. The brilliant Ethan Hawke, with his face covered for almost 90% of the character’s screentime, manages to create that intimidating feel with his voice alone.

Scott Derrickson’s making style prefers a raw representation of things, despite the main characters being kids. The writing of the movie knows how to maintain distance from predictable paths. Rather than presenting the film with mind-boggling twists, it uses practical possibilities to find The Grabber. The movie is set in the ’70s, which clearly helps avoid many loopholes. Brett Jutkiewicz’s cinematography was really good in maintaining the eerie mood, and the cuts knew how to place the jump scares seamlessly.

The Black Phone is a smartly reinvented blend of supernatural horror, serial killer thriller, and a survival nail-biter. The 103 minutes long thriller is an engaging experience that manages to surprise you despite having a very constrained plot.

Final Thoughts

The Black Phone is a smartly reinvented blend of supernatural horror, serial killer thriller, and a survival nail-biter.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.