Macabre…ish Horror Review: Black Phone
Black Phone, 2022/ 1 hr 43 min
There’s a kidnapper on the loose the news is calling The Grabber. A child, Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), who admits to having a dream about a child being kidnapped and there are black balloons. Which are sometimes left at the sight of the abductions but has been left out of the news. She says sometime’s her dreams are right. But her alcoholic, abusive dad beats her when he hears anything about it. She apparently is gifted like her mother and he violently rejects that.
The next day, another kid goes missing, her brother, Finney’s (Mason Thames) friend, Robin (Miguel Cazarez Mora). The next day after school, they are assaulted again by bullies with the absence of Robin.
But on that day, Finney walks home alone and runs into a strange clumsy man, a part time magician, or so he says, who drives a black van. Finney is immediately scooped up, drugged and tossed into the back of the van. A bunch of black balloons are released at the same time.
Finney wakes up in a basement and the man (Ethan Hawke) is wearing a mask and trying to put him at ease. The basement is terrifyingly barren aside from a mattress and a phone hanging on the wall above it.
The next day, the man returns in a different mask just to interact then leave. Suddenly the phone on the wall that is connected to nothing, rings. Finney answers but no one is there. Later he dreams but is startled a wake by the strange man wearing yet another mask. He just likes to watch.
Later, the phone rings again but this time someone is there, a girl’s voice, one that shouldn’t be on the phone. It rings again and it’s a boy’s voice who says he doesn’t remember his own name but he knows Finney’s name. He tells him something about the Grabber and a secret in the basement, a possible way out. The voice said he tried but didn’t make it in time.
Meanwhile, at home Finney’s sister, Gwen, dreams about him and goes out searching for him on her bike when she can’t sleep.
One day, in the basement, the phone rings when the door is left unlocked and the voice warns him not to go upstairs. And then the apparition of an injured dead kid shows up next to him, warning him what will happen if he goes through that door. That the others, including him all already learned the hard way.
It’s hard but Finney ultimately listens and resists the urge.
The phone rings often now, different kids who were past victims, they all are trying to help this kid survive.
At the same time, Gwen dreams of the victims and the kidnapper. Taking a risk with her dad, (who hates even hearing about her gift to the extent it drives him to violence.) she wonders if her dreams might be able to help find her brother.
Back in the basement, Finney’s paying attention and not playing the kidnappers game. He’s taking all the advice he gets on the phone. He’s tried and failed to escape and was dragged back. But his time is almost up because the Grabber is getting desperate.
On his last day, the phone call gets more numerous and urgent plus Gwen sees and hears a lot more than she ever has. They have one last chance and with some luck, Finney might escape.
This film is directed by Scott Derrickson. It is a good psychological horror that combines serial killer thriller with a ghost story. I’m fascinated by the fact that the kidnapper is not particularly scary until the end, despite the fact he wears masks. But the children, though innocent and victims are. Not because they are terrifying but because they show the violent after effects of what happened to them. And you just don’t see it coming. The movie is a slow burn and takes a minute but when it gets going, it’s pretty riveting. This movie has a lot of violence in it though the kills, all but one, are mostly not shown. Good effects and story.
TW. Bullying, child abuse, violence against children