The Black Phone

Director: Scott Derrickson
Year Released: 2021
Rating: 1.0

Growing up in Colorado in the late 1970's, Finney (Mason Thames) and his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) have to contend with bullies, an alcoholic father (Jeremy Davies) and a child serial killer on the loose nicknamed The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) - when Finney finally gets nabbed and chucked in a basement, past victims of the murderer "call him" on the title object to give him advice.  Nobody involved really thought too hard about this project: it's based on a short story by Joe Hill, who just so happens to be Stephen King's son, and you only see elements of his father's previous works (the kids from Stand By Me, the girl from Firestarter, etc.) kind of crammed in here, except nothing sticks together (maybe next time you should pull from an actual novel, perhaps?).  Hawke does what he can to be menacing - he's rarely the "bad guy" - but his character is terribly underwritten: a little background information would have been helpful ... and it could have delved a lot more into his relationship with his brother Max (James Ransone).  Pennywise would have devoured all of these people and moved on.