Ethan Hawke pulls off one of his finest performances in this chilling film from the director of Sinister and Doctor Strange.
Middle schooler Finney Blake is not exactly the most popular kid in school. He is constantly bullied but he gets support from both his sister Gracie and friend Robin, who is a black belt martial artist who will stand up to bullies. The town they live in has been plagued lately with a series of disappearances, a recent one being the friendly baseball rival of Finney, Bruce Yamada. Things become more complicated when Grace is approached by police due to having dreams that could be a connection to the disappearances.
When Robin is the next victim, Finney is sent into a panic. After getting thrashed by some local bullies, Finney is approached by a black van with a man coming out who coerces him but is soon to be revealed to be the one responsible for the disappearances. Kidnapping and locked in a basement, Finney notices a black phone but the man, known in media circuits as The Grabber, tells him the phone doesn’t work. However, when Finney hears the phone ring, he is shocked to learn that the voices at the other end are the others who have disappeared, and they plan to help Finney escape the Grabber and end his reign of crime once and for all.
Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, the duo behind the amazing Sinister have completely upped their game with perhaps their best collaboration yet. This film meshes two stories in one package, with the connection factor being a series of kidnappings from a mysterious black van with black balloons in the back. One story involves the latest victim of the Grabber and the other his sister, who possesses some sort of psychic power through her dreams.
Ethan Hawke unleashes one of his most sinister performances, his creepiest since Marvel’s Moon Knight, as the Grabber. While we rarely get a glimpse of his face as he sports various masks that look quite devious. He shows up sporadically to get glimpses of his latest victim, Finney, played in a breakout performance by Mason Thames. Thames makes an amazing transition from bullied teen to strong warrior as the film progresses. It is as if with each call, his strength builds up and the victims calling include not only those who were close to him, but in the cast of one, a residential neighborhood bully.
Madeleine McGraw is the second half of the story as Finney’s little sister Grace. Like her brother, she tends to feel the brunt of punishment from her father, who finds alcohol as a comfort food after the death of his wife. He uses a belt on her as punishment for inadvertently getting the police involved as he disbelieves the dreams, thinking they are just that. However, the cops soon believe that Grace would be a vital part of the investigation, especially when her brother is the latest victim. The final ten minutes leads to a very shocking twist that is jaw-dropping.
The Black Phone is definitely a creepy, tense thriller that brings out two break out stars in Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw with Ethan Hawke churns out one of his most insane roles to date.
WFG RATING: A
Universal Pictures presents a Blumhouse/Crooked Highway production. Director: Scott Derrickson. Producers: Jason Blum, C. Robert Cargill, and Scott Derrickson. Writers: Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill; based on the short story by Joe Hill. Cinematography: Brett Jutkiewicz. Editing: Frederic Thoraval
Cast: Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Ransome, Miguel Cazarez Mora.