The Black Phone (2021) reviewed

Last week, Netflix Oz had a AAA addition to its lineup. The Black Phone was one of 2021’s most popular blockbusters. This was Ethan Hawke’s villain debut. He only appeared after about a third of the movie. His presence though was unnerving. In case you’re wondering, there are no severed limbs or scary looking humanoids. The movie builds on the eerie. What’s unseen is just as perturbing as what meets the eye. Phone is more than just another goosebump inducer. The story of a degenerate abducting young kids is vile. The biggest question though is the title: what is the black phone?

Gwen and Finney

The characters were well-cast. Virtual unknown, Mason Thames, shines as the protagonist, Finney Blake. His sister, Gwen, has psychic dreams. Their dad smacks the latter, telling her that she’s not her mother. When he finds out that she’s been cooperating with the detectives, he belts her. Regardless, the two siblings share a tight bond. When the bullies take a liking to Finney, his friend Robin comes to the rescue. The latter would be a victim of the so-called Grabber. Once the former is missing, the bullies come at Finney with full force. Gwen tries to defend him. Obviously, Finney is a lonesome geek. He sits alone in class but finds a kindred soul during Biology. Gwen teases him about his crush.

The Grabber

The setting is Denver, Colorado. The movie opens with an baseball game. Finney almost wins a strikeout, and Bruce (his opponent) tells him that ‘Your arm is mint.’ Four young chaps, including Robin, have been abducted. The spate of disappearances have the town on edge. It was reported that the Grabber shows up with black balloons in an unmarked white van. We uncover that he wears a mask to avoid detection. He pounces on his victims when they are walking alone. He then keeps them in a dark room where he toys with their mind. The room is a far cry from what these blokes are used to. He deprives them of food and company. They have no connection to the outside world. None of these boys have ever escaped to tell their stories.

While Finney is being detained, he feels that the other victims are helping him. He tries his best to leave, but his efforts are futile. Once, he’s able to finesse over a sleeping Grabber. He runs like a maniac, but the Grabber has wheels and he’s on foot. What was once a hopeful getaway turns into A Nightmare on Grabber Street. He refuses to give in to misery. He maintains his composure though there seems to be no way out of the hellhole. Initially, he was abrupt with the Grabber. He was bitter at being victimised and he let it be known.


At first glance, the room seems like another prop in this story. The casual moviegoer would see it as the detention of a blooming mind. However, a closer look would reveal that there’s much more to the room that meets the eye. The space is an allegory of shackles. Unless you’re Elon Musk or a tech or mining magnate, chances are, you’ll be in a situation where you feel restricted. It doesn’t have to be your home. It could be your career, your school, your team, or even your own family. In this instance, a lifeline would help. Anyone could be forgiven for yearning for a black phone. The Grabber need not be a child abductor. He could be the O.J. Simpson of your life, the Voldemort, the foil to your plans. Admittedly, without darkness, there’s no light. If you look intently, there should be a helping hand waiting for you. In Finney’s case, his sister was his saving grace.


If you’re expecting an ending like Dead Europe’s, then you’re bound to be disappointed. That’s a good thing though. When the protagonist emerges from the trenches, he becomes the object of appreciation and admiration. His heroic efforts were not to be forgotten. The mystery surrounding his exploits only add to his legend. The movie is well-paced and the acting, well done. At the beginning of release, the film was garnering a perfect score on review site, Rotten Tomatoes. The acclaim eventually evened out, but it’s still strong at eighty three percent. More importantly, Phone took home the Saturn Award for best film.

Apart from the movie critics, the film was also an audience pick. A few days after its Netflix release, Phone became the number one movie on Netflix Oz. There have been a few blockbusters lately, including Dune, Wednesday, Glass Onion, and You season four. Part 2 of the latter will be released on 9 March. Joe Goldberg has replaced Dexter Morgan as pay per view’s favourite serial killer. Streaming viewers could well fit in a Dickens novel: ‘Please, Sir, I want some more.’

Rating: 4.5/5

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