The Black Phone Review
A tale of vengeful ghosts
The Black Phone is not what you would expect from a Blumhouse supernatural horror. Unlike other modern occult thrillers like Conjuring or Insidious, the ghosts are actually guardian angels towards our central protagonist, aiding him towards surviving the true monster, The Grabber played by Ethan Hawk.
The movie does contain a lot of the popular hall marks of a 2020's horror, such as a good use of jump scares, a creepy antagonist with a sinister plot and grotesque ghosts of the murdered children. However the villain of The Black Phone is not a demon or vengeful spirit, but a human child abductor that kidnaps children for mysterious reasons, which I will not spoil here. The Grabber is very reminiscent of Stephen King's Penny-wise The Clown in my opinion, The Grabber is a "magician" that lures in young boys with his friendly persona, before showing his black balloons to them, only to use them as bait when abducting them. He isn't Supernatural like IT, but the inspirations are obvious, The Grabber almost feels like the real life embodiment of said monster. There is another reference to IT when our secondary protagonist, Gwen (played by Madeleine McGraw) has visions of The Grabber in her dreams, this leads her to actively look for the killer's house in the rain, wearing a yellow raincoat. The scenery and time period really gives off this retro horror vibe and the way The Grabber stalks around the town in a black van and wears a white mask and black outfit is also very reminiscent of Halloween. The references to classic horror films are a treat, but this almost feels like a true story edition of those old films, considering the very true to reality narrative of this story.
The biggest thing that makes The Black Phone unique however, is the twist to make the supernatural a good thing, rather than something evil (like so many other horror movies). When our main character, Finney (played by Mason Thames) is abducted by The Grabber, he soon starts getting calls on this mysterious black telephone that is attached to the wall, in the basement he is imprisoned. The Grabber himself has no idea the ghosts of his victims are calling Finney, as he believes it's just an old, broken phone that doesn't work anymore. However, we soon find out that these strange callers are actually aiding our protagonist towards survival, telling him dark secrets about The Grabber, how to avoid a beating from him and where to hide and when to fight back, etc. I don't want to spoil the ending of this movie, because it is brilliant. However it is nice to see a supernatural horror movie that goes against the grain, giving us a far more terrifying, true to life horror villain, that in my opinion has to be one of the creepiest "monsters" I've ever had the thrill to witness.
Overall, The Black Phone is a very tense, terrifying and downright creepy horror movie, that tackles the very real concept of serial killers. The idea of painting this killer as already being horrifying enough on his own, to the point where even the dead ghosts that haunt the basement are actually nice in comparison. My only gripe is that I do feel like there are a few too many jump scares throughout, which in my opinion are a cheap way of scaring audiences. This also feels a little out of place considering how gritty and true the rest of this movie feels. Therefore I'd happily give The Black Phone 4 Stars out of 5.
About the author
My name is Joseph Roy Wright, the British author of 5 Independent novels!
I like to write about movies, pop culture, fiction and horror! I review all the latest films (and classics), I also like to write short stories.