‘The Black Phone’ is an average horror movie

I had high hopes for this new horror movie starring Ethan Hawke. The trailers and commercials I had seen looked like it could be a thriller done right. The black phone isn’t a bad movie per se, it’s just kind of disappointing in my opinion. The actors, especially the child actors, do a really good job and are actually the best part of the whole movie. That in itself is a big red flag for a film of this genre. It’s great to have a capable and talented cast, but when the cast is the highlight of a scary horror movie, there’s a problem. The strongest link in the chain for this kind of film should be the script.

Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw are the strongest members of this cast and they both give very impressive performances. I’m sure they both have a bright future in this craft as they mature. Thames is really the leader here and he does a very good job as captain of this ship, especially for his age. He plays his role in a very sympathetic way so that we invest in his character. Thank God for that because without that The black phone really would have been in trouble.


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McGraw is also very good as the determined sister of the Thames character. She has a lot of guts and makes her an entertaining supporting character. His performance isn’t as memorable as Thames’, but it still leaves an impression.

Another young actor I want to check out and praise is Miguel Cazarez Mora for his well-toned performance as the boy Thames befriends during the film. The child actors are so good at it that they eclipse the adult villain, Ethan Hawke. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with Hawke’s performance here. He did very well in other films of this genre like Claim and The purgebut I felt it lacked that.

Another take:

Hawke is undoubtedly a talented actor who has proven himself in previous projects, but for me he failed to convey the necessary intensity. Her missing performance really fits the overall horror of the films. I felt that the script and visuals of this movie were really not that scary and I didn’t feel that intense sense of suspense. I was surprised it was as pedestrian as it is when it comes to scares and thrills.

There are a few surprise jumps, but they don’t elicit any real sense of suspense. Most of the “scary” moments you see coming are just not that exciting. I think that’s really the undeniable truth of The black phone; it’s just not that exciting.

To me, it’s a pretty simple kidnapping story. Now, that’s not to say a simple abduction story can’t be well done and thrilling because it absolutely can be, but you have to build a solid foundation and keep us tuned. This movie is just doing a dodgy job.

Another take:

The first act gave me hope that they were on a decent trajectory, but after the actual abduction, it just goes downhill. It’s so funny because by the time all the juicy, suspenseful content is supposed to take place, it just becomes very mean and average. Exactly the opposite of what I expected happened.

I know a lot of people praise that and I respect that, and yes, that has its moments. But at the end of the day, I just wasn’t impressed overall. I think they played it safe and didn’t go far enough. I can’t wait to see these child actors continue to do wonderful things!

The black phone has its moments and the child actors do a really good job, but that’s diminished by an average script and a nasty performance lacking from Hawke.

the black phone

Another take: “The Black Phone” is an average horror movie that had the potential to be more

The black phone

The Dark Phone features strong performances from its child actors, but is marred by a poor script and a weak villainous performance from Hawke.

Great performances from child actors: Thames, McGraw and Mora

strong start

Average script

Not so scary or creepy

Weak performance from Ethan Hawke


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