Don’t waste time watching The Black Phone

Ryan Brown, Editorial Team

The scariest thing about The Black Phone isn’t its horror elements. It’s everything else.

The Black Phone is a 2021 Blumhouse Productions film that follows Finney Shaw, a 13-year-old boy who’s being held in a soundproof basement by a masked killer known as The Grabber. When a disconnected phone on the wall starts to ring, he soon discovers that he can hear the voices of the murderer’s previous victims.

This movie is a nightmare and not in the way it hoped to be. Having a film mainly centering around child actors is almost always hit-or-miss. In this case, a miss. Some of the actors deliver their lines like this is the first production they’ve ever done, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it was their first production. It’s quite obvious that Blumhouse didn’t have the biggest casting budget.

Speaking of budget, it’s not clear where the filmmakers spent the 16 million dollars they had to produce this movie. The money definitely did not go to special effects.

The editing could be the worst part. In some dream sequences, it’s edited like it’s an independent production made in 2009, which is to say it is not good. Some directorial choices are just straight-up odd in a way that is indescribable.

The film “resolves” with so many unanswered questions left. If you haven’t seen it already, now would be a good time to bow out from this review. Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

In the basement where Finney and the other kids are kept, there are carpets. Why are they down there? There’s just no in-universe explanation. If The Grabber needed that extra space, he could have used the empty house he owned in which the bodies were buried, which is shown in the end. Finney uses one of these carpets to cover up a hole he dug by removing the tile in the hallway. How did The Grabber not notice that? How did he not notice that the grate over the window was gone?

One of the victims explains that The Grabber likes to play “Naughty Boy” in which he leaves the door to the basement unlocked and beats the kids who come upstairs. They always do, except for Finney. The Grabber waited for him to come upstairs for hours, so long that he fell asleep, still masked. The Grabber’s brother, Max, is currently staying with him. How did Max not notice The Grabber? Max is dumb, yes, but there’s no way he didn’t once catch him with that mask on.

After killing The Grabber, Finney is saved by the police who were brought to the house he was in by his sister, Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn has psychic dreams, which led her to know about the house. This power was passed down from the kids’ mother, who was also psychic. So, why? Why did she have powers?

The Black Phone is a confusing mess. It’s not fun to hate like other bad movies, it just frustrates the viewer. Watch it if you want to be mad.