Director Scott Derrickson debuted the chilling first poster for his upcoming horror film starring Ethan Hawke titled The Black Phone.
On Saturday, the acclaimed director behind other horror hits like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us From Evil and his previous collaboration with Ethan Hawke, Sinister, unveiled the horrifying poster for his latest project, which puts the 50-year-old actor in incredibly pale face makeup with big, serial-killer-looking glasses along with a creepy white face mask with a permanent, rictus grin. While the smile may be reminiscent of better versions of The Joker, there is anything but joy behind the character’s eyes. One could argue there isn’t anything there at all.
Collider notes that Ethan Hawke is no stranger to the horror genre. However, he typically plays family men bent on protecting his loved ones from some kind of insidious nightmare monster or presence. The Black Phone marks a significant departure that Jason Blum, whose reliable horror house Blumhouse is producing the film, described it as “one of the creepiest movies” to come out of the company to date. Anyone who keeps track of some of the morbid and spooky titles coming out of Blumhouse will note that’s quite a statement.
Based on a short story written by Joe Hill in 2004, the film stars Ethan Hawke as its chief antagonist, a serial killer who is responsible for the disappearance of several neighborhood children in a small Colorado town. As IndieWire notes in its review, his next victim is a young boy who finds himself trapped in a soundproof basement that’s stained with the blood of the kidnap victims who came before him. In the room with him is a small antique telephone that has long since been disconnected. However, that doesn’t stop the pale-faced killer’s victims from somehow calling it from beyond the grave in an effort to help the latest boy escape their fate.
The Ethan Hawke-led film comes as Derrickson’s first since he stepped down from directing the sequel to his 2016 hit Marvel Studios film Doctor Strange. Variety previously reported that he was all set to helm the sequel when he decided to drop out in January of 2020. At the time, he called it an amicable split with the studio due to creative differences on the direction of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse Madness. To prove it, Derrickson stayed on as a producer while Evil Dead and Spider-Man helmer Sam Rami signed on to direct Benedict Cumberbatch’s second solo outing as The Sorcerer Supreme.
While a dark, sinister and at times uncomfortable horror may seem like an odd thing to give pivot to after giving up his insanely lucrative spot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most of the reviews coming out of CinemaCon and Fantastic Fest for The Black Phone give it high marks. Add in a masterful and surprisingly dark performance from Ethan Hawke, and you’ve got an adequate new installment in the overly saturated horror genre right in time for the Halloween season. The film also stars Jeremy Davies, James Ransone, Madeleine McGraw, Jacob Moran, Jordan Isaiah White, and Brady Hepner.