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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Review: The Black Phone

Director: Scott Derrickson

Screenplay: Scott Derrickson and Robert Cargill

Year: 2022

As is often the case with movies that cause a lot of anticipation in the horror genre, when I saw the announcement and the expectations behind "The Black Phone", I avoided seeing any trailer or promotional material. I usually prefer to watch a movie knowing as little as possible and being surprised. Sure, it's impossible to avoid them entirely when you're running a platform dedicated to horror movies, and what little I saw led me to have a wrong expectation of what the plot of this movie would be.

Seeing the name of Ethan Hawke as the lead, Scott Derrickson as the director, that it had a supernatural theme, and that the plot had to do with the disappearance of children, I couldn't help but think of “Sinister”. If you don't know what movie I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and consider watching it after reading the review we published a while ago about it. However, despite their apparent similarities, these are quite different movies, although they work very well for viewing in a double feature. 

While "Sinister" bases its plot on a purely supernatural aspect and is much more sinister (intentional joke), "The Black Phone" bases its plot on a much more realistic aspect and uses the supernatural aspect as a compliment. The core of the story of "The Black Phone" is based on the kidnapping of several children from a community by an individual known as The Grabber. Finney is his most recent victim, and through whom we learn of the atrocities this criminal commits. 

Once Finney is kidnapped and locked in a basement, we understand the reason for the name of the movie. In the basement, there is a mysterious black telephone that, according to The Grabber, does not work, but which rings several times during Finney's forced stay in this place, and that allows him to communicate with past victims of the criminal. Through this interaction, we get to see most of the supernatural aspect of the film, which is well crafted, but for the expectations I had from my association with "Sinister," feels somewhat limited in the horror aspect.

Although somewhat shy in terms of horror, “The Black Phone” is full of suspense. Audiovisual effects, such as scenery and sound design, play an important role, but the performances are crucial to achieving this. The entire cast does a great job in this section, but it is Ethan Hawke who shines with his interpretation of the villain and gives him a terrifying presence from the first minute we see him on screen.

Although far from offering the horror we expected, "The Black Phone” feeds on his incredible performances, technical section, and supernatural elements to bring to life a dark story. While we expected a theme with a lot of weight in the supernatural aspect, the plot is based on a more realistic aspect but still leans on the supernatural element to develop it. Horror fans won't regret watching it.

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