‘The Black Phone’ review: Sorry, wrong number

It’s surely not a spoiler to mention that there’s a black phone in this movie, and one of the key plot points is that the main child, Finney (Mason Thames), has to use it. to communicate with someone (because, duh). Later, he realizes that the phone can do something else. It can warp its own physical matter, act as a bridge to another spiritual realm, and can certainly function as a solid weapon.

At one point, the film almost deceptively convinced me that the telephone had a deeper meaning. I started to wonder, “What is the meaning of this phone?” “Is this phone a metaphor for something? and “Why is the black phone… black?” But, as the film unfolded and knotted its loose threads, it became crystal clear that the phone was just a phone – an ordinary, unremarkable, unimpressive phone.

It’s a microcosm of how I felt about this film. It led me to think that there was something more, that it is deeper than what he is implying, but in reality, there is nothing to it. According to a short story by Joe Hill, The black phone is a horror film that attempts to portray the pervasiveness of violence in public and private spaces and how it corrodes innocence and vitiates humanity.

The main word here is ‘attempt’ because combined with everything else, the acting, the plot and the editing, there’s not much to see accomplished in the finished product.

In 1978, Finney and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) face an unforgiving world at a young age. Their father, Terrence (Jeremy Davies), is violent and alcoholic. The town’s school kids are all pathologically violent bullies, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a serial killer named The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) on the loose. Soon children are being kidnapped and not heard from again once a black van arrives on the scene.

In this mundane suburb of Denver, there are only three things we know: the police are incompetent, almost every child is fighting, and there’s a masked kidnapper obsessed with masks and black balloons. So why do some critics praise this film for its distinctness”world building» and to subvert «Spielberg Tropes”? Did I watch the same movie?

There’s a lack of compositional variety in this film, an almost contrived production design that betrays its horror, and a jumble of stripped-back actors that generate no sense of urgency. If it’s subversion, then Thesilenceofthelambs and other serial killer movies need to be put to shame.

Director Scott Derrickson and screenwriter C. Robert Cargill are definitely in their horror comfort zone. Derrickson, the director of the first strange doctor and the underrated horror film of 2012 Claim, also starring Ethan Hawke, mentioned how making this film was his way of dealing with his childhood trauma and “channel[ling] that into something positive.” This experience undoubtedly influences the direction of Finney, who likely serves as a replacement for Derrickson. He is characterized as someone who loves old horror movies and refers to R-rated 70s classics to his friends. The film would like to suggest that all this kid really wants is to talk to his crush, which leads to a tonal whiplash that passes for a neat conclusion when in reality it lessens the dread preceded.

Perhaps the film would have won if Derrickson had told this story from another angle. Gwen, the psychic child who has visions of the previously kidnapped children, is the star of the film. She’s smart, sassy, ​​and manages to steal every scene she’s in. Putting her in the spotlight would make this movie more mysterious instead of a Pennywise hostage situation. That’s not to say the one-location horror concept was a bad idea, but a limited set is only as strong as the characters and story placed within it.

This new perspective would have focused the film’s attention since, as it’s currently constructed, it wasn’t sure how to juggle its various horror elements. Children kidnapped by serial killers are already a primary fear for many. John Wayne Gacy, which inspired The Grabber (and many other pop culture serial killers), captured the collective fear of parents and children due to the transgressive and bizarre profile of an unassuming clown who turns out to be a killer. serial. That alone should be scary and intimidating. But, for some reason, the film focuses its scares on the supernatural rather than relying on its already disturbing realism.

This mix of horror subgenres spoils the tone and how the characters react to terrifying things. Is this supposed to be a surreal nightmare? A gritty serial killer mystery? Or a supernatural haunting? I have no idea, and the film is none the wiser. There’s a big scare located in the middle of the film where the camera pans to reveal someone’s bloody corpse, and while I was startled, the actual child in the scene barely moved an inch. . I don’t scare easily (I think), but if I was in this scene, seeing this would at least elicit a reaction from me. Likewise, Finney’s interactions with The Grabber share this problem. Not once did I feel any intimidation or danger from this kid for two-thirds of the movie. But then, in another scene where Finney is watching an old horror movie with tasteless effects, he gets spooked.

Perhaps it’s because the violence is so pervasive in their surroundings that the characters are already immune to cruelty. You may be afraid of some things more than others, after all. Although compared to similar films featuring children facing off against clown-like characters (the It franchise), much attention is paid to paralleling the learned fear of, say, an abusive father and of fear derived from a giant spider. There’s always a strong line connecting the angst and torment of children in better movies. This shows that there is not just one face of terror; There are many of them. This makes conquering demons and monsters all the more satisfying because it means they can also overcome the torments they experience at home.

The black phone don’t think so far and settle for a cheap message. Following a near-death experience, Finney discovers the importance of confidence and assertiveness. I discovered boredom and indifference. – Rappler.com

The Black Phone is now in theaters in the Philippines

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