The Guardian


The Black Phone review – Ethan Hawke shines in a supernatural chiller

After a brief but well-regarded segue into the Marvel universe with Doctor Strange, director Scott Derrickson returns to his horror-drama roots with The Black Phone, a solid, spooky period chiller. Like his breakthrough picture, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, it combines conventional horror themes – in this case a masked child murderer (fully and terrifyingly inhabited by Ethan Hawke) and a supernatural element – with a rewarding depth of dramatic detail. The backdrop, blue-collar Denver in the late 1970s, is evoked through a nicotine and spilled Coors palette and the kind of parenting that is hands off apart from the occasional beatings.

Our four-year-old is running rings around me

My son turns four in a few days, and it feels big. Four years is a lot: the tenure of American presidents, the gap between World Cups and, to a lesser degree, European championships. Four years is the first age at which I have definite, clear memories of my own life. My first day in reception class, the smell of cheese sandwiches and hugging my teacher’s shaking legs as my mum left the room. There’s a vertiginous sense that the record button in his brain has well and truly switched on, and I should make a better effort not to say the wrong things.