For day 22 I am feeling awfully poorly. I have a miserable headache and my think-noodles are absolute mush, so I’m afraid I’ve got to phone this one in. And I bet you think that pun was intended but after I typed it out and reread it I was like OH SARAH NO. But yes. I am phoning in my thoughts The Black Phone.
I had zero expectations for this film, and I honestly wasn’t even going to watch it, but after trying and failing to watch She Dies Tomorrow, I decided it was a night for something way less abstract and depressing. But I am determined to revisit that film, because sometimes abstract and depressing is a whole mood and you just have to go with it. It wasn’t last night, though. Is it kind of snobby to say I wanted the kind of movie that would be spoonfed to me? Probably? But that’s how I settled on The Black Phone.
So here’s the story, not in my own words, because the head that makes the words happen is waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in: “Shy and clever Finney Shaw is abducted by a sadistic killer nicknamed The Grabber. He’s trapped in a soundproofed basement where no one can hear him, but he’s not alone. A disconnected phone starts to ring and the killer’s previous victims are on the other end. They are determined to help Finney escape their fate.”
This was…actually pretty fantastic. The kids were great, just the right combination of sassy and smart and sensitive…and of course, sad, living with a grieving alcoholic father with a tendency to use his belt rather than his words. Ethan Hawke as The Grabber was queasy and nightmarish, and the story was taut and immersive…and the story had a lot of heart, while the heart of it was still, absolutely, horror. I also appreciated that it was not bloated, screentime-wise, or with any unnecessary story bits. Although…I would like to know a bit more about the whys of The Grabber, but maybe that backstory is to be found in Joe Hill’s source material.
I found the mask Ethan Hawke was wearing throughout the film to be so wonderfully and horribly unsettling that I couldn’t even use the movie poster displaying it prominently for the image in this blog post, and had to go with alternate art instead! And what do you know–the creator of that mask is none other than horror movie special effects legend, Tom Savini!
But of course, the best part of the movie? I think you guys all know what I am going to say. And when I finally find the perfect occasion to use this line, it’s all over for you dumb fucking fart knockers.
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