The Grabber

The Black Phone is the movie Scott Derrickson chose to make instead of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Proving some Marvel directors would rather return to their roots. The Black Phone is technically my first Derrickson directed horror movie. It was a little more unavoidable after several less than interesting Blumhouse Productions. The Black Phone was originally a short story from the horror anthology book 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. The Black Phone is both a disturbingly realistic kidnapping and a supernatural ghost story.

The kidnapping plot reminded me of The Lonely Bones right down to the 70’s setting. The Grabber is a menacing masked man with a top hat who lures “naughty boys” into his black van using balloons and magic tricks. Ethan Hawke has played the hero in several horror movies, but he makes a really creepy villain. Though his face is often obscured, the horned grinning mask he wears makes enough of an impression. The Grabber’s latest abductee is the young Finney played by newcomer Mason Thames. It’s uncomfortable, but the Grabber never crosses the line.

The titular black phone goes off in Finney’s basement prison with calls from his past victims giving him life saving advice. Although The Black Phone is a perfectly tense horror movie, it does a lot of things I don’t like. I’m not a fan of children in adult situations. Similar to Joe Hill’s father Stephen King, The Black Phone has an abusive parent and sadistic bullies. Finney’s overly profane younger sister Gwen has unexplained psychic dreams and for no reason at all, she has an unnecessary struggle with faith. Despite those clichés, the movie is mostly saved when the siblings figure out ways to escape. The Black Phone is a call accepted at your own risk.

The Black Phone

The Grabber

4 thoughts on “The Grabber

  1. I agree, the sister was overly profane. Not cute. But I thought Mason Thames and Ethan Hawke were very good. I liked the way Finney’s character was written. And I thought the atmosphere and setting was very authentic mid to late 70s.

    Liked by 1 person

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