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Starring: Ethan Hawke, Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, James Ransone, E. Roger Mitchell
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Blum House Production horror directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson. Set in the 1970s, The Black Phone (2022) follows young Finney Shaw (Mason Thames), who is abducted by serial killer The Grabber (Ethan Hawke), and trapped in a soundproof basement. When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of The Grabber’s previous dead victims who are set on helping Finney escape.
Our Favorite Quote:'A man never leaves a friend behind.' - Robin (The Black Phone) Click To Tweet
Gwen: I don’t know. Everyone says Fonzie or Richie. Millie says Potsie, but I don’t think anyone should ever trust anyone who wants to grow up and marry Potsie. I think I’ll just stick with my current plan and marry Danny Bonaduce.
Finney: You’re not going to marry a member of the Partridge Family.
Gwen: He’s so crucial. I love his voice.
Finney: [referring to the missing child poster] It’s new.
Finney: The flyer. Mr. Yamada is putting them up again. You don’t think they’re going to find them, do you?
Gwen: Not how they want to.
Gwen: [referring to Moose] Well, he was stupid to pick a fight with Robin Arellano. He’s the toughest kid in school since The Grabber got Pinball Vance Hopper.
Finney: I wish you wouldn’t call him that.
Gwen: Everyone called him Pinball Vance.
Finney: No, I mean…
Gwen: I know who you mean, jerk face. Even the papers call him The Grabber.
Finney: Just, I wish you wouldn’t say his name.
Gwen: [referring to The Grabber] You don’t actually believe that story, do you?
Gwen: Because he can’t hear you. He doesn’t really take kids that say it.
Finney: I know that.
Finney: I said I know.
Gwen: Then say it!
Gwen: Are you chicken? I didn’t mean it.
Finney: I know.
Robin: You’re going to have to stand up for yourself one of these days.
Finney: Yeah, I know.
Detective Wright: What did you say to Amy about her brother Bruce?
Gwen: Just that I had a dream about him.
Detective Wright: What kind of a dream?
Gwen: Just a weird one.
Detective Wright: What happened in your dream?
Gwen: He was taken. That’s all.
Detective Wright: By a man with black balloons in a van.
Detective Miller: And we never released those details.
Detective Wright: So the question is, where did you hear about the balloons?
Gwen: I didn’t.
Detective Miller: I’m going to ask you again. How did you know about the balloons?
Detective Wright: What aren’t you telling us, Gwen?
Detective Miller: Either there’s a leak in the department, or…
Gwen: Or what? I’m The Grabber?
Gwen: [to Wright and Miller] You think I kidnapped Vance Hopper last spring? Is that it? Vance got held back twice. I’ve seen him fight, and trust me, he could kick the s**t out of either of you blindfolded.
Principal Keller: Gwen, watch your language.
Gwen: Yeah, I took him down, because obviously I’m The Grabber, you dumb f***ing fart knockers.
Detective Wright: Gwen, what aren’t you telling us?
Gwen: That sometimes my dreams are right.
Gwen: [after Robin’s abducted by The Grabber] I’m really sorry, Finney. I know he was your friend.
Finney: Don’t say “was”. He is my friend.
Finney: Gwen. Can you do that dream thing?
Gwen: It doesn’t work that way.
Finney: Have you tried?
Gwen: Of course I have.
Finney: Well, try again. Please.
Gwen: Jesus, I know you know what I’m going to ask you, but I’m going to ask you anyway. My brother, he needs his friend. And I know you can’t just let him go, because you don’t interfere or whatever. I don’t know the rules. But if you could help me have a dream or two, and just see something that could help the police, or me, or anyone find him, I will follow you forever.
The Grabber: [as he drops his grocery bag] Oh! You goof. Well, isn’t that just peachy keen?
Finney: You need some help?
The Grabber: You see that?
The Grabber: Would you hand me my hat? Yes, sir. I am a part-time magician. Would you like to see a magic trick? Yeah?
Finney: [as he looks at the back of the van] Are those black balloons in there?
The Grabber: Yeah.
[opens the back of the van and grabs Finney]
The Grabber: [to Finney] I know you’re scared. But I’m not going to hurt you anymore. What I said about snapping your neck, I was angry, is all. And you did a number on my arm. I’m not going to hold it against you. I guess, now we’re even.
The Grabber: [to Finney] You don’t have to be scared, because nothing bad is going to happen here. On that I give my word, Johnny.
The Grabber: [to Finney, referring to the black phone] It doesn’t work. Not since I was a kid. Hang it up.
The Grabber: I know you’re scared and you want to go home. I’ll take you home soon. It’s just that everything’s all f***ed up. I got to be upstairs for a while. Something’s come up.
The Grabber: Never mind what.
Finney: Did someone see something? Are the police coming? If you let me go before they get here, I promise I won’t tell.
The Grabber: It’s not the police.
Finney: Someone though? Someone’s coming?
Finney: I’ll scream. If someone’s upstairs, they’ll hear me.
The Grabber: No, he won’t. Not with the door shut.
The Grabber: With the door shut, no one can hear anything down here. I soundproofed it myself. So shout if you like. You won’t bother anyone.
Finney: You’re the one who killed the others. Bruce. Robin.
The Grabber: That wasn’t me. That was someone else. I will never make you do anything that you won’t like.
Finney: If you try to touch me, I’ll scratch your face. And whoever’s coming will see and ask why.
The Grabber: [points to his masked face] This face?
The Grabber: Hang up the phone now. I was down here once when it rang. Ooh. The creepiest damn thing. I think it’s static electricity that does it. It went off while I was right next to it. I picked it up without thinking, to see if anyone was there.
Finney: Was there?
The Grabber: No.
Finney: [to himself] You’re not getting out of here. I’m not getting out of here.
Finney: If you weren’t going to feed me, why did you even come down here?
The Grabber: Just to look at you. I just wanted to look at you.
Bruce: [after the black phone rings] Don’t hang up.
Finney: I won’t. Who is this?
Bruce: I don’t remember my name.
Finney: Why not?
Bruce: It’s the first thing you lose.
Finney: First thing you lose when?
Bruce: You know when.
Finney: [over phone] Did the phone ring for you?
Bruce: It rang, but none of us heard it. Just you. The Grabber hears the phone too, but he doesn’t want to believe it.
Finney: [over phone] Why are you calling me?
Bruce: Your arm is mint. You almost had me. I’m glad it’s you.
The Grabber: I made you some breakfast.
Finney: What did you put in that?
The Grabber: Salt and pepper. Oh, eat it, don’t eat it. You’re already down here. What do I need to drug you for?
Billy: [over phone] Don’t go upstairs.
Finney: Why not?
Billy: It’s a trap.
Finney: [over phone, referring to The Grabber] What is he doing?
Billy: He’s waiting, on the other side, with that f***ing belt. He didn’t say you can leave, so if you try, he’ll punish you. He’ll beat you with that belt until you pass out. It hurts, kid. It hurts real bad. You’ll cry. You’ll beg him to stop. We all did. But he just keeps beating you.
Billy: [over phone] See the wall in front of you? See how the wall is separated from the floor?
Billy: I tore a long cable loose from down there. I kept it hidden.
Finney: What am I supposed to do with that?
Terrence: Gwen, your mother, she was a special soul. And she was smart, just like you. But, sweetheart, she was also touched. She saw things, and she heard things. And she just became so convinced that her dreams meant something. And eventually, they told her to do things. Terrible things. And so, she took her own life. But they weren’t real, sweetheart. They just weren’t real.
Terrence: [referring to Gwen seeing things in her dream] I don’t want that future for you, sweetheart. Do you understand?
Gwen: But what if it could help me find Finney?
The Grabber: Tell me your name.
Finney: Why do you care?
The Grabber: I usually don’t. I find out eventually in the paper. They always print
a nice, big photo, with all the details I could ever want. All the things you boys lie about.
Finney: What’s different this time?
The Grabber: Oh, it’s complicated. It’s too complicated. Everything’s different.
Nothing’s going right.
Finney: You could let me go.
The Grabber: I’m thinking about it.
Finney: I promise I won’t tell anyone. You can blindfold me, drop me off on the street, and I’ll walk home.
The Grabber: Well, tell me your name.
Finney: Taylor. Taylor Mullen.
The Grabber: [tosses him a copy of the newspaper] I was really starting to like you. Finney. I almost let you go.
Griffin: [over phone] You don’t have much time. The Grabber hasn’t been sleeping. He thinks this might be it. That he’s going to figure it out.
Finney: Who’s going to figure it out?
Griffin: His brother upstairs.