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HORROR

THE BLACK PHONE | A Thrilling Call You Won’t Regret Answering!

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Director Scott Derrickson returns to his terror roots alongside his longtime creative collaborator C.Robert Cargill. They partner again with the foremost brand in the genre, Blumhouse, with a new horror thriller. Adapting a short story of the same name from acclaimed author Joe Hill’s 2005 debut collection, 20th Century Ghosts.

Starring four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke in the most terrifying role of his career, Madeleine McGraw and introducing Mason Thames in his first-ever film role, The Black Phone is produced, directed, and co-written by Scott Derrickson, the writer-director of Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

The Black Phone is one of the most anticipated horror movies of the year and It arrives this weekend. It’s a thrilling, sinister, and suspenseful ride set in 1978 in a Denver suburb, an era where paranoia arose due to the cult leaders, serial killers, and child abductors that hit the headlines. In The Black Phone, the Colorado town are plagued by their own demon, known to residents as “The Grabber” who’s already abducted five young boys in the area. Their faces are already plastered across missing person flyers hung upon fences and lampposts. We soon meet thirteen-year-old Finney (Mason Thames) and his younger sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw). Finney is dealing with bullies at school and is socially awkward, while Gwen has these visions that able her to peer into the future. All this angers their alcoholic and abusive father played by Jeremy Davies.

Ethan Hawke as The Grabber in The Black Phone, directed by Scott Derrickson. via Blumhouse, Universal Studios

However, it’s only a matter of time as Finney is abducted by the sadistic killer and awakens in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use. Trapped he discovers an antique black rotary phone that’s disconnected on the wall in this grey dank basement and begins to ring. The boy picks it up and begins to receive calls from the Grabber’s deceased victims, and they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney. These calls hold the key to Finney’s only chance of escaping.

Timing is key in horror and The Black Phone utilises it with its pacing and storyline as the film gradually escalates the tension and thrilling suspense once Finney’s in the hands of The Grabber. From a filmmaking aspect, we get carefully crafted cuts that elevate the sequences with fear and terror. The Grabber is meant to represent raw evil and the monstrosity that’s out in this world, we don’t know much about the man behind the mask, but what the film utilises is that evil can come from anyone as they choose to go through that sinister route.

(from left) The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) and Finney Shaw (Mason Thames) in The Black Phone, directed by Scott Derrickson.via Blumhouse, Universal Studios

Ethan Hawke’s performance is truly unhinged but also deranged. He spends most of his chilling performance under the mask, so he relies on his effective body language and emotive stares, as the eyes are the windows into the soul. His menacing performance and unpredictability of the character had me on the edge of my seat as there were some nail-biting moments. And though Hawke haunts and dominates the screen it’s the performances of the young actors that truly give the film its heart. And through the bulk of the movie Both Thames and McGraw share a sibling bond and truly handle the elevated mature material.

Thames’s character learns with the help of the Grabber’s deceased victims to stand up for himself, which in itself is a vulnerable leading performance and one that gives us an emotional climax. However, the silver lining and my favourite performance in this movie is from McGraw, her character Gwen always has her brother’s back and her bond with him is unbreakable as they reassure and lean on each other as they cope with their abusive father. Gwen is also the one in search of her brother after he gets abducted by the Grabber and thanks to her dreamlike visions she may uncover the truth of his whereabouts. Her character also made me laugh, seeing the film with my sister truly elevated their bond for us.

(from left) Gwen Shaw (Madeleine McGraw) and Finney Shaw (Mason Thames) in The Black Phone, directed by Scott Derrickson. via Blumhouse, Universal Studios

The Black Phone has the perfect mixture of supernatural scares, which in turn are elevated by Mark Korven’s eerie and suspenseful score. What also accompanies is a swinging soundtrack of upbeat 70s songs. Director Scott Derrickson brings a personal element to the film showing what it was like in the 70s stylistically and both he and writer Cargill have a natural feel for what it was like being a kid in that era. The cinematography is incredible with warm browns and oranges, film grain and filtered light flooded the screen in this idyllic horror. They’ve taken a phenomenal story by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son and have infused trauma, fear, profanity, and maturity. With killer visuals, It left me pulse-pounding.

VERDICT

The Black Phone is a solid masterclass in thrill and suspense, it’s more than a simple story and a phone call I urge everyone to answer as its atmospheric, unsettling, and has a great premise. All this creates the best horror film of the year so far…

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HORROR

The Exorcism | Official Trailer

A troubled actor begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.

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Genre:

Horror, Thriller

Release Date:

June 7, 2024

Director:

Joshua John Miller

Cast:

Russell Crowe, Sam Worthington, Samantha Mathis

Plot Summary:

A troubled actor begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.

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Trap | Official Trailer

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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Genre:

Crime, Horror, Mystery

Release Date:

August 9, 2024

Director:

M. Night Shyamalan

Cast:

Josh Hartnett, Hayley Mills, Marnie McPhail

Plot Summary:

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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Speak No Evil | Official Trailer

A family invited to spend a weekend in an idyllic country house, goes from a dream vacation to a psychological nightmare.

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Speak no Evil [credit: Universal Pictures]

Genre:

Drama, Horror, Thriller

Release Date:

September 13, 2024

Director:

James Watkins

Cast:

James McAvoy, Aisling Franciosi, Dan Hough

Plot Summary:

A family invited to spend a weekend in an idyllic country house, goes from a dream vacation to a psychological nightmare.

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