As Universal’s head of distribution, Jim Orr, said during Tuesday night’s CinemaCon screening of the studio’s upcoming release in late June. black phone, Studios don’t normally bring a movie like this to show in its entirety at a theater owner’s convention two months before it opens, unless they know they have the merchandise.
With this one reuniting producer Jason Blum and Blumhouse with director Scott Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill – all of whom worked together on the 2010s Claim – Universal Is have the goods, and then some. Being marketed ostensibly as a horror film, with a poster dominated by a fully masked and horned Ethan Hawke, what this late 1970s film is really about is the trauma of youth passing from childhood in adolescence, falling more appropriately into suspense. thriller category than the standard horror genre that the marketing seems to indicate.
Hopefully audiences won’t be put off by this approach, as this is a truly effective film that defies easy description but should appeal to a wider audience. It originally premiered at Fantastic Fest 2021 and was slated for a January release, but Blum and the studio felt it needed to be seen in theaters, hence the smart move to a summer slot. privileged and to an exclusive theatrical distribution.
Based on Joe Hill’s 2014 short story comparisons with Stephen King, and in particular This, will be inevitable, but The black phone walks at its own pace as we are introduced to its protagonist, young teenager Finney Shaw (Mason Thames), a baseball pitcher who nevertheless finds himself constantly abused by school bullies, as well as a single father alcoholic (Jeremy Davies) who is in over his head raising Finney and his rude but quite religious younger sister, Gwen (Madeleine McGraw). Gwen’s psychic dreams are credited to local authorities (if not her own father, who physically abuses her and orders her to stop) when she is able to identify the kidnapping of one of the young teens. of the city of Colorado.
It seems a serial killer is on the loose and several boys are missing. Little does she know that her beloved brother is about to become one of them as a black van pulls up and a clown-like magician (Hawke) appears, and for help from a group of black balloons knocks Finney out and throws him into the back of the vehicle. Finney soon finds himself locked in a basement, The Grabber’s latest victim as Hawke’s deranged, masked man is known to the town. Assured that he will suffer no harm, a game of cat and mouse begins between them. A black phone on the wall that The Grabber said was inoperative starts ringing and Finney finds himself in conversations with former victims, now deceased, but offering advice on how to escape without getting caught. , which each of them failed to do. Meanwhile, feisty and determined Gwen begins her own dreamlike quest to find her brother’s whereabouts and get him to safety.
The best movies of any genre are the ones that focus on the characters, which gives us a reason to cheer them on. These filmmakers place the thrills (and there are many of them) in second position to favor the progress of a story that also serves as an allegory for the terrors of growing up and losing the innocence of childhood in a very dark world, this one little inhabited. just by The Grabber, but also bullies who mercilessly beat up their fearful classmates, unhinged parents, and other realities of life. The black phone may also one day be known as a star movie, with the two Thames anchoring the story perfectly as Finney, a child whose own clumsiness and eventual determination to survive encourages us to support him, and in particular McGraw, who steals every scene she has with apparent ease that says this movie won’t be the last we hear about his. She is a real star.
All of the teenage roles are well-acted actually, and there’s some fun supporting James Ransone as a drug addict named Max who basically does coke lines upstairs while terrible things happen downstairs. ground below. Hawke really ventures out of his usual zone here, but gives this indescribable killer more than one dimension, while hiding behind a crude mask. It is acting.
The black phone Certainly isn’t the highest-profile summer offering studios have shown this week at CinemaCon, but I have a feeling it’s one that could become a major hit when Universal releases it on June 24th. It is a very entertaining and captivating thriller of the best genre, one where the horrors of everyday life are not so easy to escape.