The Black Phone Review: A Short Story and Personal Horrors Combined

In Scott Derrickson and Blumhouse Productions's upcoming thriller, The Black Phone, Ethan Hawke plays a kidnapper called The Grabber. According to the plot, based on Joe Hill's short story “The Black Phone,” Finney (played by Mason Thames), a 13-year-old child, has been kidnapped by The Grabber and is held captive in his basement.

Despite the apparent hopelessness of the situation, Finney can make contact with some of The Grabber's former victims via a disconnected black phone. They are all eager to assist Finney in avoiding what happened to them.

Even though The Black Phone is a supernatural horror film, it makes an effort to make viewers believe that at least some of the story's events may genuinely occur.

The Black Phone Movie Review

The Black Phone
The Black Phone

Some elements were updated and changed in the film, but it's not just to make a short last an hour and 43 minutes. The core of the 2004 short story is still intact in the film. For instance, in the original story, The Grabber was depicted as an “overweight clown patterned after John Wayne Gacy.” This has since been changed.

On the subject of making changes to the story, Derrickson said, “There wasn't anything that I was unsure about.” “It was plain to me what I needed to do.” He's a chubby clown who looks like John Wayne Gacy in the book.

After the “IT” movie, I didn't want him to be a clown. I also didn't want a chubby and unattractive character because I wanted Ethan instead. As a result, I had to start from scratch with the mask and Ethan to give The Grabber a look and feel distinct from Joe's story.

Gwen, played by Madeleine McGraw, is described by Derrickson as “an older character who doesn't do much” in the short story. A strong female protagonist was essential to achieving the film's goal of “real emotion and soul,” in my opinion.

As a result, Gwen was a wholly original creation. Hence the creation of a spitfire nine-year-old girl who is more potent than any other character in the film, including Finney, The Grabber, and the rest. And she's the movie's heart and soul, and their bond is what drives the story's emotional core.”

Since The Black Phone is both Joe Hill's story and Derrickson's childhood traumas, the director's journey to bring it to the big screen was also very personal for him.

For years, Derrickson had the idea for a great feature film but had no idea how to make it bigger. “A few years of therapy dealing with my childhood and the violence and horrific events there led to the answer.”

“When I was a kid, I lived in a rough neighborhood in North Denver, Colorado, where I witnessed a lot of violence. I decided to merge that experience with The Black Phone. And that's what the film is all about. A blend of my memories and that story from my history informs this piece.”

Trailer of The Black Phone

Why Children Make the Perfect Vehicle for Our Deepest Fears

The Black Phone
The Black Phone

Children have a significant role in the cast of The Black Phone. For Blum, the “embodiment of innocence” is a substantial factor in why children are often the focus of horror stories. Blum asserted, “Most kids are born kind of sound. These ideal beings are born without any bias and are all over the place.

After that, the world throws itself at them, and we become cynical and jaded. There's nothing more heartbreaking than threatening someone's innocence. “And that's why you see so many horror movies involving kids in peril because, when an audience watches that, whether you have kids or not, it's very heart-wrenching, and it's very effective,” he continues.

When asked about The Black Phone, Derrickson described it as an “interrupted coming of age story” and explained why focusing on children in these stories makes them more relatable than stories about adults.

According to Derrickson, this is because the victims are weak. “They matter to us. And we all know that change is the most frightening thing about it. As a child, we change more rapidly and against our will than at any other time in our lives, which is why the unknown is so frightening.

As a teenager, it's incredibly frightening. It's like a kid's abduction by an evil, cruel maniac. Nothing can be done to stop this. It's something everyone has to go through. It's something we all remember, and it's an intense experience.”

You've got a gigantic metaphor, but also a reality for a character who now has to rise above himself has to grow beyond who he has been in the past and become mature in a way, which is what happens to our character in this movie.”

Good Supernatural Stories: A Tight Rope to Walk

It's like walking a tightrope to tell an excellent supernatural narrative. It's something that enthralls us all when it's done right. It loses its alleged magic if it leans too far towards unbelievability or remains too close to the earth.

With films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and even the first Doctor Strange, director Scott Derrickson has dealt with the problem of walking a tightrope.

It is Derrickson's “overall attitude that the more I can ground something in actual reality, the more that I can make a viewer feel like characters in a setting feel realistic, more they are likely to embrace realism of paranormal or the supernatural when you start to introduce it,” he stated.

Moreover, the method you introduce is crucial. ” Having them accept a story as a grounded and realistic before gradually submitting paranormal or supernatural elements, they are more open to it.

It also makes the supernatural and paranormal elements scarier because you accept them more readily in a grounded film than in one with characters that are a little more over the top, cartoonish, or two-dimensional.

When it comes down to it, The Black Phone is a tale that might happen to anyone. No one who isn't a horror lover can relate to this tale of a father and his children haunted by their past.

It begins with an abusive father and his great brother and sister relationship. The movie is a kind of a metaphor for the terrible circumstances these kids are in with their father,” Blum added.

When it comes to the scariness of Ethan's character in The Grabber, I think Derrickson, Hawke, and Cargill all agree that if you focus on the storytelling of family drama first, if you get that right, then the scariness of The Grabber and the scarier things that happen in the basement are all much more effective because the audience is so engrossed in the drama that these guys have all created.”

The power of the unknown is another strength of The Black Phone and many other horror films, for that matter. We can all connect to these things because we've all experienced them.

We've all experienced the terror of not knowing, and it's a terrifying sensation. For me, it's that creepy feeling that comes into my bedroom and hides the monster under my bed or the horror of strolling through the woods at night and hearing an unusual sound.

The fact that everything in our lives is always unknown, according to Hawke, is one of the reasons why horror films and scary stories are so dynamic for us. This is why grasping the mysteries of life and death is so difficult.

Why it's so challenging to get the mysteries of life and death, and why it's so difficult to grasp the mysteries of life and death,” he says. We can occasionally gain access to the unknown through magnificent stories of light and gloom. So it's intriguing to us as viewers,” she continues.

READ MORE:

Ethan Hawke's Path to Becoming the Grabber: From Superhero to Villain

The Black Phone
The Black Phone

As the film's villain, Ethan Hawke chose to play The Grabber somewhat out of character. Except for his latest role in Moon Knight as Arthur Harrow, Hawke is not a fan of playing the villain because he believes it may damage one's mind.

“You don't appreciate allowing that type of lunacy and that depravity into your soul,” Hawke remarked of playing villains or even bad individuals. Playing someone you admire or at the very least think interesting is tremendous fun.

But The Grabber is just flat-out wrong.” Just a broken piece of junk. You'll get injured when you touch him, and he probably hates himself for making him hate himself even more.”

The actor admits that attempting to figure out why an evil character behaves the way they are maybe a little pleasure.

“What is it about him that makes him laugh?” What piques his curiosity? What exactly is he trying to accomplish with this? Hawke continued, “However, it is a beautiful game to play with yourself.

Considering the horrific reasons why adults harm children are something most people prefer to avoid. Moreover, we are baffled by the enigma of the cosmos, which is why good things happen to bad people.

It just is. It's simply unfair and unjust. That is why we spend so much energy attempting to prevent it. You have the opportunity to embody these things that are real as an actor.

Despite the lack of background information on how Derrickson created the vicious kidnapper known as “The Grabber,” Hawke did provide a story about how Dylan's comment helped define the character.

“Scott used to use that Bob Dylan phrase that anyone wearing a mask always talks the truth, and I loved it. What we know about The Grabber is that he does not want to be noticed. And anyone who isn't hiding behind a mask is lying because the only truth is that he doesn't want to be seen.”

There are no easy answers to the identity of “The Grabber,” but Hawke loves it that way. As in many stories before and after The Black Phone, the fear of not knowing is often more significant than the fear of knowing.

Hawke said, “So, I don't have any good answers.” “The mystery around him enthralled me.” I wondered about the phone's history and what it might have meant to him. He can perceive things from the perspective of the children he's working with. “Any explanation makes it seem smaller to me since you never get to know him.”

Bradley Statler
Bradley Statler
As a Voracious Reader, Bradley Statler Appreciates the Outdoors and Being in Touch With the Natural World. A Voracious Traveler, He's Visited a Wide Variety of Far-flung Destinations. From Celebrities and Technology to Modern Relationships, He Discusses Them All on His Website, Michigansportszone.com. Bradley Statler Believes That His Life Experiences Have Improved His Empathy for Others and That His Art Reflects That.

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