Since it achieved international relevance in 2009 thanks to Paranormal activitythe producer blumhouse –until then specializing in telefilms and documentaries for television– has been one of the main creative powerhouses of contemporary horror cinema. Films made under the umbrella of the company founded by Jason Blum They were characterized, in a first stage, by their artisan imprint, the attempt to escape from the most common places of the genre, dramatic arcs that develop without urgency and the non-negotiable belief that the best scares come less from the coups de effect than from them. the ability to create worlds haunted by the supernaturalwith the night of the devil, sinister Y Oculus: The Reflection of Evil as main exponents. With the exception of the supernatural, these characteristics lasted over time, seasoned with an openly political patina, as shown by Flees!, Ma and the saga The Purge. Brand new production from the house of Blum, the black phone follows paths very similar to those of that first stage, although the fanciful –and phantasmagorical– elements enter with forceps.
the angel director scott derrickson had already shown to have a good narrative pulse for the genre in Emily Rose’s exorcism and the mentioned sinistertwo films with which the black phone It has several points of contact. An introduction where, more than fear, you breathe a sinister ubiquitous air, for example. It is the one that emanates Finney’s routine (Mason Thames), who gets beaten up at school and at home… too: dad was widowed a while ago and when he’s not busy getting drunk, he girdles his son and his sister Gwen (madeleine mcgraw). And he does it with unusual cruelty in these washed-out times, congested with movies and series that, following in the footsteps of stranger things, limit the discoveries of children and adolescents to issues such as friendship and love. The initial references for Derrickson do not go through the fables of Netflix’s star product, since his is closer to Item. That the action takes place at the end of the ’70s, in the interim of the two time periods covered by Stephen King’s novel, confirms this affiliation, as well as the fact that one of the climactic scenes seems to be a carbon copy of the first kidnapping.
here there is also kidnappingsalthough not drawn by a clown but by a man (ethan hawke) who travels in a black van and releases balloons after seizing a new victim. Black balloons instead of her “colleague” red ones. Absolutely nothing is known about this man –who covers his face with a mask and his criminal intentions, with soft manners and affected voice–, not even his name (he is nicknamed “the kidnapper”), thus becoming one of those villains without any motivation beyond the search for personal enjoyment. One by one several of Finney’s friends and classmates will fall, including the only one who defends him at school. With him gone, he returns to collect handsomely in the yard. When his sister wants to defend him, he ends up on the floor, crying profusely and with his mouth kicked to pieces.
So far, then, it is a cruel, sadistic, very dark film about childhood.. The paradox is that this lasts until Finney ends up inside the black van first and then locked in a basement, that is, until the situation that could lead to the highest doses of violence. Here Derrickson pulls up the old trick of revenge-hungry talking ghosts, who on top of it all are nicer than Lassie and help Finney – who gets messier when beaten by his peers than after he’s kidnapped – by talking to him through a disconnected phone. the black phone becomes like this a claustrophobic thriller centered on the attempts to escape from that basement, while the sister contributes her own through dreams and visions. The perversion vanishes with the last black balloons.
6 – THE BLACK TELEPHONE
(The Black Phone/United States, 2021)
Director: Scott Derrickson
Screenplay: C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson
Duration: 102 minutes
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, Jeremy Davies, James Ransone, and Madeleine McGraw.
Release only in theaters