Horror fans have been anticipating The Black Phone’s arrival to the big screen. The adaptation of the 1994 short story of the same name by Joe Hill reunites Sinister director Scott Derrickson with Ethan Hawke as the leading man. Hawke plays the masked villain The Grabber, who takes young teen Finney (Mason Thame) as his latest victim. Critics have had a chance to screen the Blumhouse horror ahead of its June 24 release, so let’s check out what they have to say.
The titular black phone comes into play as The Grabber locks Finney in a cell that has a disconnected black rotary phone. The story takes a supernatural turn when Finney realizes he can hear the voices of the antagonist’s previous victims over the phone and, meanwhile, his sister, Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), uses her psychic visions to try to find her brother. Let’s take a look at what the critics think of the movie, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of The Black Phone. Corey Chichizola rates the horror 4.5 stars out of 5, saying that Scott Derrickson is a horror master, and this film proves it:
Mike Manalo of Nerds of Color would seemingly agree with the above assessment, grading the movie an A-. This review praises everything from the acting — both in the leading and supporting roles — to the score in what is so much more than your typical horror flick. It should be lauded as more of a coming-of-age blockbuster:
For at least one critic, however, the fantastical side of the plot did not add to the horror, but detracted from it. Owen Gleiberman of Variety says the movie feels more like a dark cousin to the comic book world, and he doesn’t find it particularly scary:
Matthew Mahler of MovieWeb agrees that horror fans looking for a straight scare fest might be a little disappointed, but this thriller is a dark and well-executed look at childhood and violence. The critic says director Scott Derrickson makes the story feel personal, which is effective because of how good Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw are in their roles:
Sam Stone of CBR says Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill’s expansion of acclaimed author Joe Hill’s short story is a success. They took a 30-page story and gave the characters a backstory and added to their emotional depth, which was executed well on the back end by The Black Phone’s talented cast.
It sounds like this Joe Hill adaptation should please moviegoers, as long as audiences know they’re in for something deeper than just tried-and-true jump scares. The Black Phone is set to hit theaters on Friday, June 24 and will be available for streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription on Monday, August 8. In the meantime, start planning your next trip to the theater by checking out CinemaBlend’s schedule 2022 movie releases to see what’s coming soon.