A Movie Review By Anthony Ritter

A new horror/thriller hits theaters this weekend, The Black Phone. This film follows a young boy named Finney (Manson Thames) who is abducted by a crazed killer (Ethan Hawke). Finney is held prisoner in a basement where an old black phone begins to ring. When Finney answers this clearly disconnected phone, he finds he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. These victims are reaching out to Finney in an effort to help him avoid meeting the same fate they did.

What follows is The Good, The Bad, and The Spoilers of The Black Phone

The Good

There were so many good things in this film. The Black Phone is based on a short story written by Joe Hill, son of the great horror writer Stephen King. I did not know this during my first viewing of the film, but upon reflection, it made some of the elements of the movie that I loved, make a little more sense. I felt like The Black Phone gave me similar vibes as Stand By Me, a short story by Stephen King. Also, throughout the movie, there are many little tributes paid to Stephen King, like the killer having balloons and a little girl in a bright yellow raincoat.  I will have to rewatch the film to see if I can spot even more than I saw the first time.

Another great part of this movie is the kid actors. Yes, you read that correctly. Manson Thames and Madeleine McGraw, who plays Thames’ sister, were both amazing. These characters were well written and portrayed in a way that felt both natural and believable.

The Bad

I only have 2 small negative points from The Black Phone. First, I did not like that this movie was pushed as a horror movie. In my opinion, this movie is clearly a thriller but does not fit that general “horror” mold. There are a couple of jump scares thrown in, but you are not scared or creeped out. You spend the time wondering what’s going to happen next. The Black Phone is the same level of “horror” as the 1999 film, The Sixth Sense.

The other negative point is related to the film’s antagonist. While Ethan Hawke was great, the character left me wanting more. I left the theater wishing they had given some backstory on the character. Why was he abducting and killing kids? I guess audiences are just supposed to accept he was a crazy person and that is all the information viewers need.

My Overall Opinion

If you do not enjoy scary movies, then you probably have already decided that you are planning to skip this one and that is understandable. I love scary movies, and the first trailer for The Black Phone did not get me excited about the movie. After seeing it, I would HIGHLY recommend it. It keeps you on the edge of your seat guessing how things are going to end. I plan to see it again, Soon!

Note: On his blog “GoodBadSpoilers.com”, Anthony Ritter critiques and writes a review on selected movies.  Once you see a movie that Ritter has reviewed, visit his blog and share your point of view. 

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