The Black Phone ★★★
Starring Mason Thames, Ethan Hawke, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, James Ransone
The Black Phone is one of many films that has been met with the gruelling punishment of the pushback; changing dates several times after an initial release date of January 28th. But finally, Scott Derrickson's next film (after exploring the blockbuster world of Doctor Strange) has hit the big screen to try and haunt any viewer as he returns back to his horror roots.
Finney Shaw (played excellently by newcomer Mason Thames) lives in a town that is threatened by The Grabber: a mysterious masked character who kidnaps children on their way home from school. Along with sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), Finney gets an up close encounter with The Grabber, which spirals him in to his own world of discomfort and isolation.
The villain is creepy and unique, yet unmotivated, and at no point does the film give reason for his villainy. The horror genre is thriving right now and perhaps for that my expectations were a little high, but this wasn't doing anything new or different that would put it with the likes of Get Out or Host. Ethan Hawke played 'The Grabber' and although he's menacing and unpredictable, you can't help but think he's a little underused. When your masked, ambiguous villain is a star, how long can the mask actually conceal him.
It's a superbly made horror with jump scares and eeriness and an excellent dream concept, but for some reason it doesn't feel fresh or innovative. When the concept is a creepy man kidnapping children, you expect either it to have more relation to the real world or for it to justify its existence in some way. Even moments of domestic abuse or loneliness are only explored loosely as a passing sub-plot.
With a great leading performance, a new creepy villain and a fair few perfectly timed jump scares, this is a horror that people are going to love being frightened of, it's just not doing anything superb to justify those months of pushbacks.
The Black Phone available in cinemas now