Directed by Scott Derrickson, the director behind “Sinister”, “Black Phone” follows the ordeal of a child kidnapped by a serial killer. The film, with its great humanity, stands out as one of the best thrillers of recent years.
From its first minutes, Black Phone immerses the viewer in a world that already seems familiar: a modest American suburb, teenagers coming home from school, wanted posters plastered on the walls and a killer driving a truck who kidnaps innocent people… This could be the starting point for a Stephen King novel and that’s no coincidence.
Black Phone draws on the codes of the horror genre – with a seventies atmosphere – to better circumvent them later. Co-written and directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister, Doctor Strange), the film focuses on every parent’s worst nightmare: child kidnapping. The story follows Finney Shaw, a young boy kidnapped and locked in a soundproof basement.
Above him, the killer is on the lookout for the slightest sound. But a strange telephone fixed to the wall will allow him to contact the spirits of former victims in the hope of, perhaps, finding freedom.
Produced by Blumhouse – the production company behind the biggest horror hits of recent years – Black Phone is much more than a thriller with a previously seen storyline. By mixing hyperrealism with fantasy, he succeeds in creating a feeling of constant unease thanks to a stunning sense of suspense and ingenious staging.
Although this is a purely Hollywood production, the film surprises with its darkness, particularly in its way of addressing child abuse on screen – namely in a frontal and unequivocal manner. The other big strength is the characters.
The plot revolves around two heroes: Finney (Mason Thames), the kidnapped boy, and his little sister, Gwen (Madelaine McGraw). We immediately believe in the unwavering love that binds them. If children’s characters in cinema tend to be annoying, here it’s quite the opposite and more than ever the public wants only one thing: for them to get away with it.
It must be said that the talent of the two actors has something to do with it. Facing them, in the shoes of the killer, we find Ethan Hawke. Black Phone’s good idea is to never show its face, always hidden behind different masks. Enough to transform a simple killer into a mythological creature.
Black Phone is available on Netflix.