Some lucky viewers have had the chance to see an early screening of the upcoming horror movie The Black Phone, and it sounds promising. Descriptions thrown around include “deeply disturbing”, “exquisitely acted”, and, surprisingly enough, “good laughs”.
The Black Phone was shown at CinemaCon, a conference dedicated to the upcoming year of releases in Hollywood. Reporters and critics in attendance are treated to a number of presentations from major distributors, as well some previews, of which the latest offering from director Scott Derrickson was. “Just sat through The Black Phone and watched as a room full of grown-ass adults jumped and yelped and cheered (and laughed – it has good laughs!)” Lauren Huff, writer at Entertainment Weekly, tweeted. “Bolstered by excellent performances all around but especially the young actors.”
A similarly glowing review came from Scott Mendelson, film critic and pundit for Forbes: “The Black Phone is a handsomely staged and exquisitely acted horror thriller. The first act is the best, but it all works, and I appreciated how it didn’t over-explain itself or outsmart itself.”
Some were a little more middling, suggesting that the film felt “underwritten”. You can read the reactions to The Black Phone below:
The Black Phone is pretty great and with a few minor changes could be amazing. The film is very creepy, brutally violent & deeply disturbing. Ethan Hawke is terrifying as the grabber while Mason Thames & Madeleine McGraw are newcomers worth keeping an eye on. #TheBlackPhone pic.twitter.com/CK7eZTl1hB
— Scott Menzel (@ScottDMenzel) April 27, 2022
THE BLACK PHONE: I wanted to love it, but alas, it left me saying, that's it? Felt underwritten. Kept waiting for another beat/twist that never came & the rules of the world were a bit unclear. Just couldn't get on board w/ supernatural/mystical elements of story. Perfs just OK.
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) April 27, 2022
Just sat through #TheBlackPhone and watched as a room full of grown ass adults jumped and yelped and cheered (and laughed – it has good laughs!). Bolstered by excellent performances all around but esp. the young actors. Now off to sleep in a hotel room that has a black phone..😨
— Lauren Huff (@_LaurenHuff) April 27, 2022
The Black Phone is adapted from a short story by Joe Hill. Derrickson, who’s known for the first Doctor Strange film in the MCU and ghost movie Sinister, is directing and cowriting the screenplay with his frequent collaborator C Robert Cargill. Ethan Hawke stars as The Grabber, a serial killer that targets children. Victims kidnapped by him are kept in a locked basement with a mysterious phone that lets them talk to previous victims.
You can find what that’s all about when The Black Phone opens in theatres on June 24.