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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Jesus on the Main Line

The Black Phone on IMDb

Plot Overview

timeman on phoneA North Denver suburb in 1978 is being terrorized by abductions of school children. When thirteen-year-old Finney Blake (Mason Thames) goes missing, his younger sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) has dreams concerning his where­abouts, which the baffled police listen to, but her domineering father Terrence (Jeremy Davies) discourages, so she won't take after her mother who was “touched.” Mean­while, a disconnected phone in the basement dungeon where Finney is being held rings, connecting him with deceased victims who offer him advice and warnings.

a swing and a missOne such victim is his playground protector Bruce Arnado (Tristan Pravong) who was impressed by Finney's prowess on the pitcher's mound (“That arm is mint! You almost had me”) and had encouraged him to stick up for him­self in the school­yard as he wouldn't always be there to help him. Finney was easy to push around and the bullies took advantage. Who is going to help him now, when his situation reads like one from a William Bernhardt novel?

He heard the sound of a poorly oiled heavy metallic door opening and closing. The hollowness of the echo, combined with the visible concrete floor, suggested that he was in a large concrete room—a ware­house perhaps, or some­thing like it. ¶He heard foot­steps approaching. (97)

Bruce can preternaturally communicate a martial arts move to Finney, to use that mint arm of his, but he'll need to man up to defeat a healthy adult, to trans­form him­self from a milque­toast into a badass.


hand crank ice cream makerHere is begun an intergenerational conflict à la, (Prov. 30:33) “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” The idea in the proverb is that a state of peace and conciliation can change to one of war just as a liquid (milk) can change to solid (butter) through constant agitation (churning.) Or hit a critical area (nose) and it will bleed. This principle is illustrated in the movie when a drubbing Gwen receives from her father eventually provokes her to snatch his whiskey bottle and threaten to dash it to the floor, should he continue the abuse. That would change the liquid spirits in the bottle into gaseous fumes in the air. And when Bruce needed to teach a lesson to bully Moose (J. Gaven Wilde,) he whaled on his prone figure making his face to bleed. He wanted lots of blood to get the message across.

A continual goading by the Grabber (Ethan Hawke) eventually brings Finney to put that mint arm of his to good use. And for that matter when the Grabber's brother Max (James Ransone) finds out how he's been using that big empty house he's leant him, the axe will fall.

Production Values

” (2021) was directed and co-written—w/C. Robert Cargill—by Scott Derrickson from a short story “The Black Phone” by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King.) It stars Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, and Jeremy Davies. Great performances were had from Hawke and all the young actors.

MPAA rated it R for violence, bloody images, language and some drug use. The film's direction is sound in setting up the menacing atmosphere of fear of child abduction. Ethan Hawke delivers us a credible bad guy. The music score supports the horrifying tone building the suspense concurrent with the plot. It was filmed in faded tones giving it the feel of its 1978 setting. It has a runtime of 1¾ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

prayingThis movie is generally well-made with some creepy moments in it and good characters. Its clever writing brings it together nicely. It hasn't any obvious faults save perhaps an unrealized potential. It includes some hopeful praying to Jesus who may or may not have mysteriously intervened.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Bernhardt, William. Capitol Murder. Copy­right © 2006 by William Bernhardt. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006. Print.