The Black Phone is a child-killing horror movie to avoid like the plague

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Hype but divine, The Black Phone makes an ungainly run for cult horror acclaim by using every trick in the book – the book being a quick short story about a child killer by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill.

In its pages, which are thankfully 1,100 fewer than King’s IT, this character is an obese, sweaty gay pedophile called Albert – not a perfect part, on the surface or even anywhere below, for the emaciated, usually casual Ethan Hawke. His Sinister director, Scott Derrickson, presumably lured him in with God knows what flattery.

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Through a mixture of vapidity and incompetence, the film sets out to make Hawke’s deal with the guest star look like the worst call of his life. It produces heaps of icky paranoia but remarkably few real fears, while still managing to be unnecessarily brutal in all the wrong places – that is when Hawke’s soft-wrist caricature of a sub-Pennywise sex offender isn’t even on the screen.

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It’s 1978, in suburban Colorado, where five pubescent boys have so far been pulled off the streets and crammed into “The Grabber’s” (Hawke) black van when he pretends to show them a ride. magic. The latest is 13-year-old Finney (Mason Thames), who finds himself locked in a basement with just a dirty mattress, a toilet, and a black phone inexplicably hanging on a wall, which his captor tells him he did not work. years.

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Through this unlikely means, as Hawke’s Albert doesn’t realize, his previous victims can contact Finney and give him survival advice, just when he gives up hope. As those unfortunate deaths materialize to give us a weird leap, Finney’s younger sister, Gwen (Madeline McGraw), picks up distress signals in a vaguely indebted way to The-Shining, and rides her bike like crazy to find it before it’s too late.

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