Still Credit: The Black Phone, Blumhouse Productions, Crooked Highway/Universal Pictures, 2021

Hector Nerio IV, Editor

Over the summer I’m sure we all saw some pretty great movies like Top-Gun: Maverick. Or some duds like Jurassic World: Dominion, but one sleeper movie which was pretty good was The Black Phone

The Black Phone is a movie based on a book of the same name written by Joe Hill, who happens to be the son of Stephen King.  The movie is set in 1978 around the Denver suburbs and the main character Finney Shaw is a smart but timid teenage boy who gets abducted by a sadistic serial killer called “The Grabber”. While locked in a soundproof basement Finney gets the help of a disconnected Black Phone attached to the wall that has the souls of “The Grabber’s” victims that try to help Finney before his time runs out. 

I went into the theater not having too many expectations but I left with chills when the movie was over. I remember feeling so tensed up  every time it showed Finney in the basement talking with the ghosts; I felt that at any moment something bad was going to happen to make Finney’s situation worse.  Another instance of high tension is when Finney escapes from the basement but has to keep trying to find the right combination to the lock as “The Grabber” was asleep next to him while trying to not wake him up. This is the best way to enact horror on screen, when the audience feels as if ghosts are messing with their spines. 

What I also appreciate in this movie is how “The Grabber” is not glorified. In modern media the serial killer would be glamorized to look cool to the audience. Instead, this movie rarely shows “The Grabber” and focuses on how smart the other characters are. For example, when Finney is trapped the ghost kids tell him what tools he needs in order to escape, but they don’t tell him how to use them. He then gets the idea to use other things he has in the basement to his advantage which pays off at the end leading to “The Grabber’s” death and his escape. 

This was a sleeper film that I did not expect to be so stunning. With its effective use of horror balanced with well-written characters, I’d give this film a ⅘ frogs.