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The Black Phone Review: A Thrilling But Convoluted Serial Killer Story

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screenrant.com

The Black Phone is a chilling horror-thriller with a downright creepy performance from Ethan Hawke that (outside a few unique pieces) tells a relatively familiar serial killer story.

It's a well-constructed film at nearly every level, with great showings from its kid actors and adult stars alike, atmospheric cinematography, and satisfying jump scares; yet, it falls short in exploring its most intriguing components, notably the titular «black phone» and creepy antagonist «The Grabber» — two aspects that could have differentiated the movie from similar "kid trapped in a killer's basement" movie tropes.

Based on the short story of the same name by writer Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), The Black Phone follows teenage brother and sister, Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwen Shaw (Madeleine McGraw), whose Northwest Denver suburb is tormented by a series of child abductions perpetrated by an unknown serial killer known as The Grabber.

Bullied at school and terrorized by his alcoholic father, Finney learns to accept abuse (and physical beatings) as inevitable, even failing to defend his sister when she is assailed by their dad for claiming to experience clairvoyant visions.

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