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The Black Phone Review

The Black Phone showcases another phenomenal performance by Ethan Hawke, but at times he is overshadowed by a lackluster story.

The Big Summer Movie Preview the black phone

The Black Phone is Scott Derrickson’s newest horror flick starring Ethan Hawke and Mason Thames and though it is a great film overall, there are some core issues.

The first that needs to be mentioned is just how incredible the performances are. Almost every single one was great. Of course, Ethan Hawke shines, per usual, but Mason Thames (who plays our main character, Finney) is phenomenal. Viewers will be blown away by the acting in The Black Phone.

The story, however, is where The Black Phone starts to fall apart. It is pretty basic, but thankfully other elements make for it. At least for the most part.

The Black Phone Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke as The Grabber in The Black Phone, directed by Scott Derrickson.

We already said how great the performances are, but the visuals also helped to elevate the film. They conveyed a way better story that the script itself did. Every shot in this film was composed perfectly. Not only did that add to the style of the film, but towards the second act it allowed for way more substance.

In an effort to remain spoiler free, let’s just say the story choices made would not have been half as impactful if not for the perfect camera work.

the black phone

The biggest issue might sound silly at first, and that is there is not enough Ethan Hawke. Now of course viewers will want more of his acting — he is Ethan Hawke — but as a whole his character didn’t feel like he reached his maximum potential. Yes, he is scary and fear inducing, but we want more. We need more.

He is this mysterious kidnapper that went by “The Grabber”, but he is actually too mysterious. He was so mysterious that the ending of the movie had no impact, and that is a problem with a film like this. There is so much buildup with his character, and this aspect of, “WHAT does he really want”, “WHY did he kidnap the kids”, etc. But none of these are ever answered, leaving the audience hungry for more.

The Black Phone review

The Black Phone
cr: Fred Norris/Universal

The pacing of the movie was pretty good. The first 20 minutes could’ve been used better in terms of setting up The Grabber, but other than that it slows down and speeds up perfectly.  As previously mentioned, the style is great, with the perfect shot composition. It is silly but still fear-inducing, and overall worked well.

All that being said, The Black Phone is great. It’s a silly and scary movie, but there was so much more we could have gotten. It felt like as the movie progressed, we had more wants, but less answers. Because of this, The Black Phone never fully reaches its potential. 

There is a basic script at play in this film, and it definitely hinders certain parts, but overall there are so many other awesome elements that the movie is still great.

Rating: 8 out of 10

NEXT: Why Ethan Hawke Didn’t Read The Moon Knight Script


About The Black Phone

Finney Shaw is a shy but clever 13-year-old boy who’s being held in a soundproof basement by a sadistic, masked killer. When a disconnected phone on the wall starts to ring, he soon discovers that he can hear the voices of the murderer’s previous victims — and they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.

The Black Phone comes to theaters June 24th.