The Black Phone is based on a 2022 short film of the same name by Joe Hill. Ethan Hawke, who also starred in Derrickson’s 2013 film Sinister, plays a serial killer named “The Grabber," who has a very weighty legend to him, similar to other horror icons like Pennywise Hawke reportedly broke his “no villain” rule to play the character. The film also stars Mason Thames as Finney, Madeleine McGraw as Finney’s sister Gwen, and another Derrickson regular James Ransone as Max.
No reason The Black Phone was given for the delay, but it might be to avoid a slightly overstuffed weekend, as its original February 4 date had the film going up against Roland Emmerich’s space epic Moonfall and Johnny Knoxville’s Jackass Forever. The month overall is pretty crowded with high-profile releases with the likes of Sony Pictures' Uncharted adaptation starring Tom Holland and 20th Century Studio’s Death of the Nile finally coming out.
Even though big releases like Jurassic World: Dominion and Pixar’s Lightyear are coming out in June, The Black Phone (2022) overall the month seems surprisingly quiet, with the only other major release on June 24 being Warner Brothers’ Elvis starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks.
Although The Black Phone does not premiere in theaters until next year. It made its debut earlier this year at Fantastic Fest and with 11 reviews it holds a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Derrickson is best known for directing Doctor Strange, but before that, he was a horror genre regular making hits like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and Deliver Us from Evil. Due to the current reviews and terrifying trailer, all signs point to this horror thriller being another genre hit for the director.
2022 was a great year for horror, with releases like A Quiet Place Part 2 and Halloween Kills keeping genre fans happy. 2022 looks to continue that with another killer year for horror and one of the most interesting releases coming next year is director Scott Derrickson’s supernatural abduction movie The Black Phone. Originally it was set to release on February 4, 2022, but Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions have just announced that it is being pushed back to June 24, 2022.
The Black Phone now releases in theaters on June 24, 2022 and you can watch online trailer that was released in October below.
When writer-director Scott Derrickson parted ways with Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange sequel, he decided to return to his rich horror roots with a big screen adaptation of The Black Phone. Based on the story written by Joe Hill, the film picks up in the 1970s when a young boy named Finney Shaw (Mason Thames) finds himself the latest prisoner of "The Grabber," a mask-wearing child murderer, who has put the entire community on edge.
Finney is certain to end up like all the others until the titular phone in the killer's basement, which doesn't seem to be hooked up to anything, starts to ring with calls from The Grabber's previous victims. Taking advice from these helpful ghosts of the past, Finney plots a daring escape. The homicidal maniac in question is played by Ethan Hawke, who had previously worked with Derrickson on 2012's Sinister, but the actor wasn't sure he wanted to play such a deplorable character.
"One of the reasons I wanted Ethan is because I think he has one of the most distinctive voices in cinema," Derrickson, who co-wrote the screenplay with frequent collaborator C. Robert Cargill, told Total Film. "But he'd already told me that he doesn't play villains."
Fortunately, Hawke reconsidered his position and accepted the villainous role in the most terrifying way imaginable. "I sent him the script anyway and that night he left me a voicemail in this menacing voice, and he said, 'I'm gonna out of you It's gonna hurt really, really bad,'" Derrickson recalled. "It was a line in the script, and that was how he was letting me know he was going to do it.
Also chatting with the magazine, Hawke said there were "a couple of different reasons" that motivated him to board the project. "What Jack Nicholson did in The Shining was that he taught the world to see his malevolent side, how to see his madness," he explained. "And once you do that really well, audiences don't unsee it. It can be a cumbersome piece of baggage, and I think that's what I was scared of. But also, you know, there's something a little shamanistic about my profession and the idea of inviting all that darkness into my life just never really felt worth it before."
Hawke's no-villain policy was also rolled back for Marvel Studios' Moon Knight TV series coming to Disney+, where he'll be playing the main antagonist (the specific character has yet to be revealed).
Aside from Hill's source material, Derrickson drew on his own childhood. "I grew up in North Denver and it was a violent place," the filmmaker said. "People were fighting all the time, a lot of people were bleeding. At that time, the Manson murders had just happened. Ted Bundy had just come through Colorado. I grew up hearing about kids getting abducted, seeing faces on milk cartons. When I was 8-years-old, my friend knocked on my door and told me somebody had murdered his mom."
Channeling that "air of danger" of his formative years, Derrickson made a conscious effort to avoid the rose-colored nostalgia of certain films depicting childhood in the 1970s and '80s. "They tend to be duplications of what other filmmakers have done — Spielberg especially — in portraying this idea of a suburban childhood. The thing is that's just not my experience."
The Black Phone will answer the call in theaters everywhere on Feb. 4, 2022.
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