The Black Phone Brings A Terrifying New Villain To Life

Everything we know about the upcoming adaptation of Joe Hill’s horror short story, ‘The Black Phone’, and the wicked villain at its center.

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“Never talk to strangers” boasts the tagline for Joe Hill’s latest film adaptation, The Black Phone, on its new retro-themed poster. With an attention grabber like this, the poster below does even more to bring this masked killer to life. The film’s antagonist, The Grabber (Ethan Hawke), sports a stone-textured mask with a demonic, Joker-esque grin. The style of the poster itself brings heavy vibes of classic ’70s and ’80s horror films and gives the impression that this film will follow at least partially in their footsteps.

Furthering the spook factor, the mask sprouts a pair of horns that evoke even more fiendish vibes. And coming from a horror legend like Ton Savini, it’s easy to see why the mask is so effective. With other fx projects like Creepshow, Friday the 13th, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 under his belt, among others, Savini’s “Grabber” mask is certain to be a people pleaser (or frightener!).


The Plot

The Blumhouse horror thriller follows 13-year-old Finney Shaw, after being taken prisoner by the psychotic killer known as the Grabber, and soon finds himself imprisoned in a basement with only a disconnected, black rotary phone and mattress as his furnishings. When the phone starts to ring, against all logic, he answers to find the voices of long-dead victims of the Grabber calling to give him aid. The ghosts of the killer’s victims instruct Finney how to escape, using their own failed attempts as examples to guide him to freedom.

Outside of the basement, the ghosts are not the only ones who are trying to help Finney. Shortly after his disappearance, his sister begins to experience psychic visions of his imprisonment and uses them to help lead authorities to the killer.


The Confirmed Cast

Ethan Hawke takes the role of the Grabber as the leading antagonist of the film, seeming to break his personal rule of not playing the villain. Hawke is no stranger to the horror genre, having played the lead role in the film Sinister, as well as The Purge, but a role as the villain is certainly something new. Working alongside Hawke in the role of Finney, is Mason Thames, who is most familiar from his appearance in the AppleTV series For All Mankind.

Also among the cast are Madeleine McGraw as Finney’s sister, Gwen. James Ransone, also of the film Sinister along with its sequel, plays a character named Max. His exact role in the film is uncertain based on the trailer, which leaves room for speculation on his part in the film. Finally, there is Jeremy Davies, of Justified and Lost, playing Finney and Gwen’s father.


What Else To Expect

The film is to be directed by Scott Derrickson, who is returning to the realm of horror after directing Doctor Strange in 2016. With having directed a variety of other horror films including the previously mentioned Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, we can expect to see quite a thrill ride from the notable horror director.

The addition of Savini’s devilish mask to the Grabbers aesthetic certainly improves the cinematic effects of the film, but interestingly enough is an addition to the film not included in the original short story. Other changes from the original story include slight changes to details of the Grabbers backstory, namely in the film he is a part-time magician, compared to being a part-time clown in the short story. This was a very intentional decision according to director Scott Derrickson. Hill himself came to the decision to change the character from a clown to a magician, in order to avoid having too much in common with the recently released remakes of the IT franchise.

Overall if Hawke’s performance in the trailer alone is any indication of the rest of the film, the tagline looks like it will ring true, and make you want to “never talk to strangers” again.

More about Joe Hill and his work can be found here. Interested to see the movie yourself? Watch the trailer for The Black Phone, and catch the movie on its release in theatres on June 24, 2022.