"The Black Phone" Is A New Horror Film Starring Ethan Hawke As A Serial Child Killer

"The Black Phone" Is A New Horror Film Starring Ethan Hawke As A Serial Child Killer
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"The Black Phone" Is A New Horror Film Starring Ethan Hawke As A Serial Child Killer

Don't talk to strangers.

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BuzzFeed Staff


The Black Phone is the latest addition to the popular trend of throwback horror — i.e. Stranger Things and the It films — that have been having a major moment as of late.


Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Based on a short story by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), The Black Phone tells the horrifying tale of a local serial child killer called "The Grabber."


Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Hawke, who teams up again with Sinister filmmakers Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, plays The Grabber. If you've seen the promotional artwork, then you'll already be familiar with the very creepy, Lon Chaney–esque (London After Midnight) mask that's sure to be the most memorable aspect of the movie.


MGM / couresty of Everett Collection, Universal / Getty Images

Note: There are some mild spoilers ahead and also mentions of child abuse.

So, the film opens with a montage that feels like something out of a high-brow HBO series. Through a series of creepy images — presented in era-specific low-fi footage — the tone is clearly set. And, if I'm being honest, the opening montage is one of the better parts of the movie.


Universal Pictures

Set in 1978 north Denver, we meet a 13-year-old boy named Finney (Mason Thames), who's bullied at school and tormented at home by an alcoholic father (Jeremy Davies).


Universal Pictures

Finney is close with his younger sister, Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), who is sassy, super tough, and has a strange gift...


Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

...you see, Gwen can ~see things~ in her dreams (more on that in a second). And yes, this concept feels like something straight out of a Stephen King novel — because like father, like son!


Universal Pictures

Now, over the course of a few weeks, some of the kids Finney knows from school go missing — Bruce, the local baseball superstar, and Robin, Finney's friend/defender from the bullies. The cops are on the case to solve these kidnappings, but their only clues are some black balloons that have been left behind where the boys were taken.


Universal Pictures

One day, Finney is out walking by himself (why are kids walking home alone when there's a known kidnapper about?!) and he comes across a strange man with a creepy van.


Universal Pictures

Now, we, the audience, obviously know this is The Grabber, but of course Finney does not and gets tricked. The Grabber asks Finney, "Would you like to see a magic trick?" (