Black Phone Reviews Have Appeared, see What Critics Are Saying About Ethan Hawke’s New Horror Movie

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Horror fans were looking forward to the appearance of the “Black Phone” on the big screen. The 1994 adaptation of Joe Hill’s short story of the same name reunites director the Sinister Scott Derrickson with Ethan Hawke in the title role. Hawke plays a villain in a Grubber mask who takes a young teenager Finney (Mason Thame) as his latest victim. Critics had time to watch the horror Blumhouse before its release on June 24, so let’s see what they say.

The title black phone comes into play when the Grabber locks Finney in a cell with the black disk phone disconnected. The story takes a supernatural turn when Finney realizes that he hears the voices of the antagonist’s previous victims on the phone, and meanwhile his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) uses her psychic visions to try to find her brother. Let’s see what critics think of the film, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of “Black Phone.” Cory Cicizola rates horror 4.5 stars out of 5, saying that Scott Derrickson is a master of horror, and this movie proves it:

It’s so easy for a horror movie not to land that fans like me are sometimes willing to accept it after a few hours of fear. But the finale of “Black Phone” shows why this genre is still such a success at the box office. In general, “Black Phone” is everything you need from a horror movie: terrifying, exciting and with an unforgettable ending.

Mike Manalo of Nerds of Color would apparently agree with the above assessment, giving the film an A-grade. This review praises everything from the acting — both in the main and secondary roles — to the music in what is much more than in a typical horror movie. It should be regarded more as a blockbuster of growing up:

So I just can’t recommend the “Black Phone” enough. To date, this is Scott Derrickson’s best film, the best filmed ghost story since The Sixth Sense, and one of my favorite films of the year. I encourage everyone who is looking for a really good and solid movie to look for it, but keep in mind that this may not be the kind of cheese festival filled with panic like many other horror films. It’s a cleverly made, emotional horror, as well as a very dark, but ultimately hopeful film that will fully engage you from the first frame to the last.

However, for at least one critic, the fantastic side of the plot did not add to the horror, but detracted from it. Owen Gleiberman of Variety says the film is more like a dark relative of the comic book world, and he doesn’t find it particularly scary.:

The black phone leads you on its own terms — that is, if you agree that this is not so much a brilliant trick from a thriller, as a kind of stylized contraption. It’s a terrible ride that keeps you going, and it shouldn’t have any trouble attracting an audience, but I didn’t find it particularly intimidating (three or four decent jumping moments—all those shocking shots with beats on the soundtrack are the oldest trick in the book). The film plays a game with the viewer, rooting the action in the tropes of fantasy and revenge, which should raise the stakes, but in this case mostly reduce them.

Matthew Mahler of MovieWeb agrees that horror fans looking for a true horror feast may be a little disappointed, but this thriller is a dark and well-acted look at childhood and violence. The critic says that director Scott Derrickson makes the story more personal, which is effective due to how good Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw are in their roles:

Young Mason Thames leads the process as Finney and does an incredible job, even when he has practically nothing to work with, alone in a deserted basement. His determination and the transition from cowardice to courage are perfectly expressed, despite his surprisingly steadfast face. Madeleine McGraw is perhaps the best part of “Black Phone” as Gwen, a delightful combination of precocious and innocent, suffering and strength. Whether she is inappropriately scolding Jesus in her sweet prayers or quarreling with her father, the young actress explodes in every scene she is in.

CBR’s Sam Stone says Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill’s expansion of the famous author Joe Hill’s short story has been successful. They took a 30-page story, gave the characters a backstory and added emotional depth to them, which was well realized by the talented cast of “Black Phone”.

Derrickson perfectly recreates the era of the late 70s throughout the film, without creating a sense of uselessness or arbitrariness. From the choice in fashion and interior decoration to music, Derrickson creates a sense of a familiar, lived-in world, and Grabber embodies something like a revived suburban nightmare. Derrickson and co-screenwriter Cargill, who is also producing the film, turned the source material into a big, terrifying world. Hill’s story is murderous, without fillers, takes about thirty pages.