The Black Phone

2021, Horror/Mystery & thriller, 1h 42m

247 Reviews 2,500+ Verified Ratings

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critics consensus

The Black Phone might have been even more frightening, but it remains an entertaining, well-acted adaptation of scarily good source material. Read critic reviews

audience says

With a terrific villain and a twisty story stacked with edge-of-your-seat thrills, The Black Phone is a must-watch for fans of suspenseful horror. Read audience reviews

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Movie Info

Finney, a shy but clever 13-year-old boy, is abducted by a sadistic killer and trapped in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use. When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer's previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn't happen to Finney.

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Critic Reviews for The Black Phone

Audience Reviews for The Black Phone

  • Jul 20, 2022
    This is the movie that director Scott Derrickson made after departing Marvel over "creative differences" with the Doctor Strange sequel, differences I feel like I can agree with. Based upon Joe Hill's short story, The Black Phone is a return to Derrickson's horror roots, along with regular screenwriting collaborator C. Robert Cargill, and you can feel the director's reflexes resetting. It's like three movies in one, not all of them needed or entirely coherent. It's about generational trauma and abuse, a survival thriller about escaping a psychotic serial killer, and a little kid trying to hone her nascent psychic powers. The stuff with Ethan Hawke as "The Grabber," a kidnapper of children who imprisons them in a locked basement dwelling with a broken black phone attached to the wall, is great, and Hawke is fascinating and unsettling. Each mask he wears seems to come with a slightly different persona attached, so with each appearance we get another sliver of who this disturbed man may have been. The story of survival is made even more intriguing when our protagonist, young Finney (Mason Thames), learns that the past victims can communicate with him through the mysterious black phone. The scene-to-scene learning and plotting is fun and efficient and requires Finney to be a little bit of a detective, exploring his dank surroundings and the failed escape attempts of the other kids to utilize for his own hopeful plan. The ghost kids also have limited memory of their experiences, which is smart so that he isn't given a clear advantage without limitations. The parts that drag are where Finney's little sister tries to convince the skeptical police officials that her dreams are real and can help find her missing brother. There is one hilarious moment where she prays to Jesus for guidance and then profanely expresses her disappointment, but otherwise it feels like a Stephen King stereotype leftover (Hill is the his son; apple meet tree) that doesn't amount to much besides padding the running time. It doesn't even lead to big breakthroughs for Finney to be rescued. As a small-scale creepy contained thriller, The Black Phone is an engaging survival story with a supernatural twist that works as well as it does. It doesn't have much more depth or meaningful characterization, it's really just about a kid using the power of neighborhood ghosts to escape a crazy man, and that's enough at least for a passably entertaining 100 minutes. Nate's Grade: B
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Jul 02, 2022
    I love when a great, independent thriller comes along and surprises me. Upon hearing that Ethan Hawke would be portraying a character who abducts young boys, I was turned off, because he never plays roles like this. I also know him to be a stellar performer regardless though, so I was all in no matter what. I'm glad I could excite myself enough to see this one in theatres because I think it was well-done all around. If you're a fan of thrillers in any way, here's why I think you should check out The Black Phone.  In a small town, young boys begin to go missing, with the only similarity between every abduction being that black balloons are always found at the crime scene. The man responsible for these kidnappings is known all over town as "The Grabber". The main focus of the film is on Finney (Mason Thames) and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw). Being bullied at school and having an abusive father has made Finney very strong-minded. He is the next in line to be kidnapped as well. Captured and brought into an underground cellar, he must figure a way out.  I haven't seen Mason Thames in anything before, but for being a relatively new young actor, I think his work here was terrific. On top of that, Ethan Hawke gives a very creepy performance, which makes for some very tense scenes of dialogue between the two of them. The title of the film obviously implies that there will be a phone at some point throughout this film and the meaning behind the phone is what sold the movie to me. How it plays into everything happening was terrific. It kept me engaged and on the edge of my seat.  Overall, if I had to complain about something, it wouldn't be about any filmmaking aspects or storylines because everything is very solid here. Where I feel the film almost hurt itself is in the final two minutes, right before the credits rolled. Without giving anything away, I just don't feel that the final scene fit the tone of the rest of the film at all. It was a little silly, to be honest. I was able to look past it, but I found it to be a very bizarre choice. From the score to the performances, or the thrills to the downright unnerving sensibilities of "The Grabber", this film is simply great all around. It's simple, quaint, and yet very effective. The Black Phone is now playing in theatres, and for fans of this genre, I highly recommend it.
    KJ P Super Reviewer

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