Parents' Guide to

The Black Phone

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Violent but effective horror tale about kidnapped teens.

Movie R 2022 102 minutes
The Black Phone Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 22 parent reviews

age 13+

Dark and intense thriller following a kidnapped teen is violent and heavy on the language

The Black Phone (2022) follows Finny, a young teen who finds himself in a soundproof basement and kidnapped by his towns infamous kidnapper, “The Grabber”. First he saw his friends disappear, and in that basement under the control of The Grabber, he receives a call from the dead kids before him leading him out. The film is consistently very violent and is heavy on the language. There are also brief scenes of drug use, but the main concern is the extreme amounts of suspense and unknowing of the kids safety. VIOLENCE: SEVERE 2 kids fight, they throw several punches towards each other before one is punched to the ground. While pinned on the ground, the kid is violently punched over and over in the face as blood spurts out of his nose and mouth and covers his face. The kid who beat the other up later says that more blood is better for the crowd who was watching. A young girl is repeatedly beaten with a belt while screaming and crying, she smashes a bottle of alcohol so the man stops but he beats her harder and she continues crying. A kid is punched and kicked on the ground, his sister runs out, shoves and hits one of the bullies before bashing one of their heads with a rock before she is hit and the brother gets continuously beaten on the ground. Blood is shown squirting out the side of the kids head who was hit with a rock and all down onto his shirt. A man is shown kidnapping a boy by grabbing him, but the boy stabs him in the arm with a toy rocket ship. He gets infuriated and sprays a substance into his mouth, knocking him out. His bloody wound is shown later on. The ghosts of dead kids are shown throughout the film, some are just shown with blood on their shirts and blood wounds on their heads, one is shown levitating in the air with his throat slit open and blood dripping onto the floor below when he lifts his arm and makes a disturbing groaning noise. A few kids fight in a shop, one pulls a knife but is stopped, thrown to the ground, violently beaten and has his head repeatedly bashed into the floor, supposedly killing or severely injuring him. A kid is hit over the head with a metal vent which falls onto his head while trying to escape his confinement. A kid is grabbed, pulled to the ground and has a knife pressed against his neck where the man tells him he’ll gut him in the street and that he’ll strangle him with his own intestines before he is knocked out. A man is chopped in the head with an axe, his head is shown splitting and blood splashes out graphically. Afterwards, the killer pulls the hatchet out out of his head, we just hear this as he pulls on it before he lifts the bloody hatchet. While trying to kill a kid, a man trips and falls into a hole. His foot breaks and snaps before the kid takes a phone filled with dirt and viscously bashes his face over and over again bloodying it before he wraps the wire of the phone around his neck and strangles him for a long time before eventually pulling and snapping his neck. The film is very violent and intense throughout. LANGUAGE: SEVERE Around 26 uses of “f*ck” including several uses of “motherf*cker”, one use each of “c*nt” and “c*cksucker”, use of “sh*t” and milder words like “h*ll”, “d*mn”, “a**”, and “b*tch”. DRUG CONTENT: MILD A man is shown snorting coke twice, it is comedic both times and brief. OVERALL: 13+ for strong violence, disturbing images, language and some drug use

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
5 people found this helpful.
age 13+

Great movie for teens plus

Very good movie. I would say 13 or older. The little sister is a trip and hilarious! The concept and ending are good. They do show the dead boys helping the main character. Lots of swearing and some fist fights. Go see it !

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
2 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (22):
Kids say (72):

This tense horror movie seems a little tentative about how far to go with its subject of child kidnapping/murder, but it still delivers genuinely brutal tension via its vivid characters. Based on a short story by Stephen King's son Joe Hill (Horns, NOS4A2, Locke & Key), The Black Phone takes its time before putting Finney in the concrete room, trying to humanize the victims as much as possible. Director Scott Derrickson seems to want viewers to feel the impact of death, but not too strongly. The movie frequently retreats into humor; a scene with a hyped-up, paranoid James Ransone is a hoot, and McGraw -- who plays young Gwennie -- amuses with her colorful insults.

Another small issue is Finn himself. He's introduced as a brilliant baseball pitcher, staring down batters with a fearsome glare before throwing perfect strikes. Given that context, it makes little sense for him to be so meek and passive later. As a result, The Black Phone can feel somewhat shapeless. But once Finn is in the room, his interactions with a scenery-chewing Hawke, as well as the voices on the phone, start to build into something worth watching. Derrickson offers up a couple of spine-tingling moments, as well as suspenseful races-against-time that will make viewers' palms slick with cold sweat. The final moments are savage in their violence, but it's also cathartic and primal. All in all, this one's worth picking up.

Movie Details

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