Scott Derrickson UPS Aware PINK Scott Derrickson

The horror adaptation The Black Phone has the same problem as the It movies

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The horror movie The Black Phone takes place in 1978, and the choice of setting is very much intentional. It’s an excuse for director Scott Derrickson to use the same type of blaring ’70s needle-drops — in this case, the nostalgic sounds of The Edgar Winter Group, Pink Floyd, Sweet, and Chic — also seen in Warner Bros’ recent two-partadaptation of Stephen King’s It.

It also lends realism to the barrage of scenes where kids mercilessly bully and beat the snot out of each other with nary a concerned adult in sight.

That leads to the most effective product of the film’s period setting: a palpable sense of danger. The late ’70s wasn’t quite the peak era for serial killings in America. (That didn’t happen until the mid-’80s.) But a number of high-profile cases did break during that era, and combined with the birth of televised murder trials and a rise in overall crime rates, the stories helped stoke paranoia in the general public.

Attitudes about child rearing hadn’t yet caught up to this anxiety, though. And with the “Stranger Danger” campaigns of the ’80s still a few years away, 1978 was prime time for unsupervised kids being dragged into unmarked vans.

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