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The Black Phone | 2022 | R | – 1.7.7

content-ratingsWhy is “The Black Phone” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “violence, bloody images, language and some drug use.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes a couple of bloody murders with one man being struck in the head by an axe, several fights between teenagers with a lot of blood shown, a teen boy fighting a man, a child being whipped by her father, several implied murders of children, a few arguments, and at least 26 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.


After a town is terrorized by “The Grabber,” who’s kidnapping children, a 13-year-old boy (Mason Thames) finds himself locked in a basement. When he starts receiving calls on a black phone in the room, the callers seem to be trying to help him survive. Also with Madeleine McGraw, Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Davies, E. Roger Mitchell, Troy Rudeseal, James Ransone, Miguel Cazarez Mora, Rebecca Clarke, J. Gaven Wilde, Spencer Fitzgerald, Jordan Isaiah White, Brady Ryan and Tristan Pravong. Directed by Scott Derrickson. A couple of lines of dialogue are spoken in Spanish without translation. [Running Time: 1:43]

The Black Phone SEX/NUDITY 1

 – A pre-teen girl makes kissing noises when talking to her teen brother about a teen girl. A teen boy and a teen girl flirt.
 A shirtless man is seen and his bare chest and abdomen are shown.

The Black Phone VIOLENCE/GORE 7

 – A man swings an axe into another man’s head and blood sprays on him; the victim falls dead onto the floor with the axe still in his head. A man swings an axe toward a teen boy and lunges toward him, the boy moves away and when the man follows him, he breaks through a hole in the floor, lands on a grate and snaps his ankle (we see the ankle bend unnaturally), and the boy hits the man in the face repeatedly with a phone receiver, wraps the cord around his neck and snaps his neck.
 A man gets out of a van and drops a bag of groceries; when a teen boy offers to help him, the man grabs the boy, sprays something in the boy’s mouth (presumably a sedative) and shoves him in the back of the van and we see that the boy has cut the man’s arm with a small toy rocket he was carrying (blood is shown on the man’s arm and the rocket). A teen boy wakes up to the sounds of his younger sister crying and when he rushes to the kitchen he sees his father whipping the girl on the back with his belt; the girl threatens to drop a bottle of vodka on the floor and when she does, the man throws her to the floor and continues to whip her. Three teen boys chase another teen boy and kick and punch him when he falls to the ground; a pre-teen girl picks up a rock and throws it hitting one of the attackers in the head (we see blood pouring from his head), another boy picks the girl up and throws her on the ground, then kicks her in the head (we see blood on her nose and face) and the first teen boy continues to be kicked. Two teen boys fight in a school yard with others watching and cheering; they punch, kick and shove each other, and one holds the other in a chokehold and slams him to the ground, straddles him and punches him in the face repeatedly (we see a lot of blood on the boy’s face and the attacker’s hand). A man chases a teen boy and pins him on the ground, punches him in the face and throws him on a mattress (we see his bloody nose). A teen boy throws another teen boy into a store display after the boy jostled a pinball machine and ruined the other boy’s game; the player fights with several other boys (one holding a knife) in the store and the police arrive and take him away.
 A large dog barks and growls at a teen boy. We see five mounds of dirt in a basement floor and are told that those are the graves of five kidnapped children. A pre-teen girl rides her bike in the rain and she screams and falls over when lightning flashes and she sees five people standing in front of her in the street. A teen boy yells loudly over a telephone and a room shakes and a boy in a room holds his ears; bottles in the room float and spin in the air and slam into the wall shattering.
 A teen boy wakes with a start and sees another teen boy hanging upside down in the room and dripping with blood; the vision disappears. A teen boy is shown with blood on his eye (we don’t know what happened). A teen boy hides in a bathroom stall in school and three other boys enter taunting him and calling him names; another boy enters, washes blood from his hands from a previous fight and threatens the three bullies, telling them to leave the first boy alone. A teen boy is presumably grabbed while delivering newspapers and we see his bike and his dog left at the side of the road. After a teen boy goes missing, people search the woods for him at night.
 A man puts a teen boy on a mattress on the floor in a room and locks a large door behind him when he leaves. A teen boy uses a toilet tank lid to break a hole in a wall; he removes the back of a large freezer and tries to push the doors open (he is unable). A teen boy tries to climb and jump to a window in a basement room (he is unable). A teen boy climbs a flight of stairs and finds a man wearing a mask seated in a kitchen.
 A man tells a teen boy, “I should snap your neck.” A man talks to his pre-teen daughter about her mother seeing things that weren’t there, doing bad things that voices told her to do and that she took her own life. A teen boy screams in a basement room where he is locked in, but cannot be heard. A man reprimands his young teen son for slurping while eating his cereal and the man cringes when his daughter makes a noise while opening a breadbox. A pre-teen girl yells at two police detectives and curses at them when they question her about her dreams. A teen boy asks his younger sister, “Do you think they’ll find him,” (about a missing boy) and she replies, “Not the way they want to.” Two teen boys talk about “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and other violent movies. A teen boy watches a TV movie and he seems frightened with a scene showing a bathtub filled with what looks like blood and a hand reaching up out of the liquid toward a woman in the room. A pre-teen girl talks to Jesus asking for him to send her dreams that could help find missing children. Many missing child posters are shown posted.
 Several children are seen cleaning and bandaging bloody injuries on their faces and knees during the opening credits. A teen boy prepares and launches a small rocket into the air. A teen boy eats a plate of food with his fingers.

The Black Phone LANGUAGE 7

 – About 26 F-words, 2 obscene hand gestures, 15 scatological terms, 7 anatomical terms, 5 mild obscenities, 2 derogatory terms for gay people, 1 derogatory term for Hispanic people, name-calling (slimy little beaner, the Grabber, idiot, my idiot, jerk face, chicken, stupid, moron, cowards, dumb fart knockers, pathetic, dumb [scatological term deleted], [anatomical term deleted] weed, noid, dip [scatological term deleted]), exclamations (shut-up, freaking out), 4 religious profanities (GD), 4 religious exclamations (e.g. Holy [scatological term deleted], Holy Mary Mother of God, Jesus). | profanity glossary |

The Black Phone SUBSTANCE USE

 – A man snorts cocaine in a few scenes, and a man sprays what seems like a sedative into a teen boy’s mouth and he falls unconscious (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). A man opens and drinks from a beer at a children’s baseball game, many beer bottles are shown on counters and tables in many scenes throughout the movie, a man sleeping in a chair holds a partially empty bottle of beer and his teen son puts it on a table next to him, and a man appears to have a drinking problem.

The Black Phone DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – Alcoholism, suicide, grief, the supernatural, psychic abilities, child abuse, friendship, standing up for yourself, kidnapping, serial murder.

The Black Phone MESSAGE

 – Stand up for yourself.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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