Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Ethan Hawke Terrifies in the Trailer for ‘The Black Phone’

Ethan Hawke as 'The Grabber' in Universal Pictures' 'The Black Phone.'
Ethan Hawke as ‘The Grabber’ in Universal Pictures’ ‘The Black Phone.’ Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Are those black balloons in there?”

“Would you like to see a magic trick?”

No! No, no, no! Come on kid, you never say ‘yes’ to a stranger wielding promises. Especially if the man is a pale-faced, top-hatted Ethan Hawke and the seriously spooky theme from Alan J. Pakula’s Klute is playing in the background.

In the new trailer for The Black Phone, Mason Thames plays Finney Shaw, a kid nabbed by Hawke’s character, known only as ‘The Grabber.’ Shaw is attempting to escape the Grabber’s basement with the spirited help of the room’s former occupants, communicating from the other side through a disconnected black phone. 

Though it’s so common to the genre that we barely notice its ubiquity, there’s something so instinctually creepy about the mask. Its combination of frozen emotion and hidden deflection drives a spike into our collective cerebellums and floods us with adrenaline. The pock-marked, faded yellow-green, horn-rimmed Joker-grinned Grabber mask in The Black Phone ranks right up there for terror. Hawke doubles down on this creep with an insistent, wheedling rasp behind the psycho smile.

The twist on this typical tale of a twisted man is that despite being incarcerated in a madman’s basement, Shaw has help from the ghosts of the Grabber’s victims. In another seat-flinching trailer moment, the boy answers the phone, unaware of a bloody peer next to him.

Related Guides

The narrative unfolds through Finney’s perspective — his family and personal life before he becomes the kidnapper’s latest quarry. In between dodging bullies, Finney has to walk on eggshells at home to avoid abuse from an alcoholic father. The only solace he finds is from a spitfire sister, Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), who has no qualms about cussing out cops or smashing a rock over a bully’s head.

Though Hawke is typically known for playing thoughtful characters, he’s going all in for this reunion with director Scott Derrickson after 2012’s truly scary, Sinister.

Not only does under three minutes of Black Phone threaten to scare the wits out of folks, positive reviews are rolling in from festivals like Fantastic Fest and Beyond Fest. The movie won’t be coming to theaters until Feb. 4, but October’s dark days marked a perfect time for Universal Pictures to release this first clip to haunt your dreams.

Read More: Netflix’s New Horror ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’

Editors' Recommendations

Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
Wes Anderson’s star-studded ‘Asteroid City’ trailer is exactly what you want it to be
Check out the trailer for Wes Anderson's 'Asteroid City"
wes anderson asteroid city trailer

Not many directors working in Hollywood today are able to be the headliner of a film. People are often more interested in summer blockbusters and superhero flicks than they are the unique work of a specific filmmaker. Steven Spielberg and Guillermo del Toro are two of the names that separate themselves from the rest when having this discussion. Wes Anderson is another example, and his newest film offers a star-studded trailer for the masses to enjoy.

Asteroid City - Official Trailer - Only In Theaters June 16

Read more
‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ trailer: There’s plenty for adult fans to love
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen
seth rogens teenage mutant ninja turtles trailer tmnt

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the most enduring entertainment franchises of all time. Between comic books, video games, action figures, and movies, the sarcastic, funny, and kickass adolescent reptiles have been relevant in a variety of mediums since the 1980s. What was once a signature franchise for Generation X and Millennials has now been passed down to new generations of fans.

Still, the heartbeat of the fandom comes from these older generations. TMNT lost its way a little bit in recent years, but original fans have now attempted to bring back what made the stories and characters so unique. It started with the video game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge, which came out in the summer of 2022, and now it extends to the Seth Rogen-produced film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

Read more
Trailer for Apple TV+’s ‘Silo’ teases a dystopian thriller that looks amazing
'Silo' trailer teases Apple TV+'s latest post-apocalyptic drama
Apple TV+ Silo Episode 1 Photo of Rashida Jones and David Oyelowo

With such a large variety of streaming options for TV viewers in 2023, each service needs to find its niche to ensure its success against the competition. Apple TV+ wasn't always one of the first options fans looked to for new shows and movies, but that has certainly changed in the last few years. The main reason for this mostly has to do with Apple's newfound dedication to the mystery/thriller/science fiction genres. In a word? Suspense. Between workplace thrillers like Severance and historical fiction such as Shantaram, there's no shortage of options for people seeking something that will increase their blood pressure.

Apple announced their newest addition to this lineup of thrillers earlier this week with a press release for Silo. This dystopian fiction is based on novels by Hugh Howey that follow a group of survivors living under the planet in a silo. Nobody who lives underground knows details about the silo's purpose, its inception, or whether there is a world to come back to above the ground. Elements of family drama and science fiction will be involved in the plot points of the series. (This show also follows AppleTV+'s Extrapolations, a show that takes a look at a future affected by climate change — clearly, AppleTV+ is trying to tell us something about the future.)

Read more