Watch: Scott Derrickson on reclaiming nostalgia in The black phone
Need a break from all this stranger things-fueled nostalgia? Well then, Scott Derrickson’s new horror The black phonein theaters now, might be just what you’re looking for.
“I am in love stranger things, I really do,” the director told Yahoo in an interview. “I’m in episode five of the new season. It is great. But I got a little tired of constantly seeing stories where middle school kids were always from the same suburban Spielberg universe in these paranormal, fantastical movies.
“I felt like we were always interpreting an entire coming-of-age era through the window of what was really Steven Spielberg’s legacy.”
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The black phonean adaptation of the 2004 short story by Joe Hill (son of legendary horror author Stephen King) about a little boy named Finney Shaw (Mason Thomas).
On a clear day, Finney is attacked in the middle of the sidewalk outside his school by a masked man known only to him as The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) and thrown into a van. He wakes up in a basement. All there is is an old mattress and a switched off phone.
Derrickson’s film builds squarely on the core fears and paranoia of the late 1970s, from the release of influential films such as Friday the 13th and Halloweento the massive cultural changes that followed the Manson murders and the horrific slaughter of serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy.
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It’s an attempt to capture a bit of the director’s own childhood, which he spent in Denver in the late 1970s.
“I grew up in a violent neighborhood,” Derrickson said. “It was a working class neighborhood where people were fighting all the time and bleeding all the time. All parents were pretty abusive. Everyone has the belt or worse.
“My own friend next door knocked on my door when I was nine. And I opened the door and he cried and he said ‘Somebody murdered my mother’. His mother had been kidnapped and raped and wrapped in a telephone cord and thrown into the local lake. My main association with my own childhood is fear. I just remember being scared the whole time.”
For such a disturbing film The black phoneit became an immediate priority that the young cast members felt safe and supported on set at all times.
Speaking to Yahoo, Mason Thomas joked that Ethan Hawke gave him “a noogie on the head” to lighten the mood between takes of the film’s central kidnapping scene. “I think I have a picture of it somewhere,” he added.
Madeleine McGraw, who plays Finney’s sister Gwen, also praised Derrickson’s approach to such sensitive material. “We talked a ton before this really intense scene that we had to do, which helped me so much because I was so nervous,” she said.
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“One of the best things about working with Scott was that we felt like he was always there for us no matter what.”
The black phone is in cinemas now. Check out a trailer below.