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Featured Movie Reviews

Black Phone

Stephen King’s son Joe Hill has always been a hit and miss writer for me. When he’s on, he’s damn good at creating clever concepts that grab you immediately. THE BLACK PHONE delivers exactly that, immersing you into a small town dealing with a very aggressive child killer.

It’s not a light concept, with the children of the town living in fear as their friends continue to disappear.

You could see it as Hill’s short story riff on a human Pennywise, but this tale is as much a crime thriller as it is a horror film.

Mason Thames (For All Mankind) is 15-year-old Finney. A bit awkward at school, his best friend is his sister Gwen (Madeline McGraw). They share not just a sibling bond, but a secret. Gwen seems to have clairvoyant abilities, a fact that their deeply abusive father Terrence is desperate to hide. Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan, Twister) is a terrifying monster, trying to drink his pain into hiding and creating a living hell for his two children.

But there’s another monster in town, The Grabber, played by Ethan Hawke in an explosive performance that scores a 10 on the creepy meter.

When Finney is kidnapped by the Grabber, he wakes up in a dark basement that features one padlocked exit, no windows and on old black phone on the wall. When it rings, let’s just say it’s not the kids living next door calling.

E Roger Mitchell (The Equalizer) and Troy Rudeseal (Halloween Kills) are the two detectives on the case. They are funny, tortured in their efforts to nab the Grabber and committed to stop the killings. Both actors bring a conventional cop duo style infused with an interesting horror movie vibe.

Miguel Cazarez Mora makes his film debut as Robin, a tough kid that defended Finney in life and is even more devoted in death. It’s a scene stealing role in a film loaded with good performances.

Hawke has become one of my favorite actors the past ten years. He can do anything and brings such reality to his role that it makes the movie twice as scary. Twisted doesn’t begin to describe it. Horror legend Tom Savini created the prosthetic masks that Hawke wears. They’re legendary.

Writer/Director Scott Derrickson (Doctor Strange) delivers a sleek, fast-paced thriller loaded with earned jump scares and lurking dread. Fans of his 2012 horror film “Sinister” will find plenty of echoes to that film.

Exceeding expectations, THE BLACK PHONE is a killer paranormal thriller, scaring up a B.

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