Last year, science determined Sinister to be the “scariest movie ever.” No takes, no opinions, just straight science based on what horror movies do to our bodies. According to the report, Sinister watchers’ resting heart rates were measured and raised by thirty-two percent while watching the film, the largest jump in the study. While most horror critics’ top ten lists probably wouldn’t include the 2012 ghost story, which holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of sixty-three percent, the “Science of Scare Project” has proven it. Far be it for me to argue with science, though I certainly have my own opinion, but actor Ethan Hawke, Director Scott Derrickson, and writer C. Robert Cargill are back together once again, looking to raise the resting heart rates of their audience with their latest horror tale, The Black Phone.
The trailer begins innocuous enough, stealing a beat from the Stranger Things playbook, though perhaps setting its tale a decade earlier based on the vehicles, clothing, and hairstyles. Finney (Mason Thames) and Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) walk home after school, and they begin discussing the plague of flyers denoting missing kids from the surrounding areas. As Gwen remarks, the kidnapper (Hawke) has become known as “The Grabber,” Finney tells her that she shouldn’t say his name. A van then appears behind them, which given the font at first glance, I thought said “Blumhouse” on it, which is also the film’s production studio. Finney and Gwen now appear to be stalked by a creep in a van, but what’s more twisty about this abduction thriller is the supernatural Candyman aspect with which The Grabber appears.
Introducing The Grabber as a magician and one capable of making Finney disappear, the trailer makes quick work of having the young boy ending up in The Grabber’s basement. Finney is supplied with a single disconnected black wall phone that The Grabber says hasn’t worked since he was a boy. That statement alone is cause for conjecture, and quickly you’ll find your mind wandering around what that could mean. Is this The Grabber’s boyhood home? Or was The Grabber a kidnapped child too, like Finney, who’s now taking up the mantle of the kidnapper who raised him?
Things only get freakier from here, with Gwen informing the police on the status of her nightmares, which include insights into the Finney’s capture and captor and Finney receiving calls on the broken phone. Finney begins receiving calls from The Grabber’s deceased victims, and there’s something to be said about the unsettling continuous ring they use to reach him. Whether this is the fight-or-flight response to the mind of a boy bracing himself to survive is something I’m not sure of, all I know is, as the trailer concludes, I’m excited to see how it all shakes out.
From a short story of the same name created by Joe Hill, the creep factor is high in the trailer for The Black Phone. Seeing Ethan Hawke as a straight villain is a little unusual. However, 2022 may belong to “Evil Ethan” as fans of the actor are waiting for The Black Phone and preparing for his supervillain role in Marvel’s Moon Knight. Who knows, maybe his role in Knives Out 2 will also carry a surprise turn.
The Black Phone is coming to theaters on February 4, 2022, but you can read Joe Hill’s short story now as part of his 20th Century Ghosts compilation.
So what do you think of the trailer for The Black Phone? Do you agree with Sean that it looks creepy and unsettling? How do you feel about Ethan Hawke as a villain? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for more trailers, we’ve got you covered!