Ringing beyond the $100M-mark global box-office, Universal Pictures’ “The Black Phone” has successfully brought in the horror genre fans once again to the cinemas and continues to do so, making it one of the “biggest non-sequel horror” films to-date.
“The Black Phone” comes to Philippine cinemas today, July 20, starring a subtle powerhouse of veteran and young talents led by Ethan Hawke along with Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw who continue to earn praises and raves for their work in the film.
“The Black Phone” is based on the short story by Joe Hill (son of legendary horror author Stephen King) where Ethan Hawke takes on the role of The Grabber, a child abductor and serial killer. Both the short story and the film follow 13-year-old Finney (Thames), abducted by The Grabber in a small town in northern Denver. Locked in the killer’s soundproof basement, Finney discovers that he can hear the killer’s previous victims through a disconnected black rotary phone on the wall.
In most films about child abduction or serial killers, the victim needs to be rescued by an intrepid, driven detective or other adult. In The Black Phone, the well-meaning adults are essentially useless and the kids – Finney himself, the voices of the dead boys on the phone, and especially Finney’s younger sister, Gwen (McGraw) – are the only people who can possibly save Finney from certain torture and death. Beyond the blood-chilling terror, it’s a film about the strength of children, their ability to believe in unseen forces, and the power of family and love to endure even the darkest, most unthinkable events.
Set in the ‘ 70s, for Gen Xers, this was a time without anti-bullying initiatives, where, for boys in particular, learning to defend yourself against mean kids was considered a normal rite of passage. “My earliest memory up until high school was the violence of the neighborhood that I lived in,” director Derrickson says. “The primary feeling that I remember having as a child was fear. I was the youngest kid on the street full of bullies.”
Hawke was, in fact, hesitant at first since The Grabber is a failed magician who is shrouded in darkness. “Some part of The Grabber’s soul has been so eroded that he can justify doing things that most of us can’t even think about,” Hawke says. “It’s hard to play that level of malevolency because it’s impossible to justify.” The script, and in particular the relationship between Finney and his sister Gwen, changed his mind. “I thought it was special because, yes, it’s a scary movie, but it has a heart of gold,” concludes Hawke.
A Universal Pictures International film, answer the call when “The Black Phone” opens on July 20 in local cinemas nationwide. Rated R-13 by the local censors’ board (MTRCB), only 13 years old and above are allowed inside the cinema.