Now, this is an interesting combination of subgenres! I don't know for sure that this will end up on my list of 2022's favourites. But I have to give the filmmakers full credit for this original take on an otherwise, fairly typical kidnapping/hostage movie. There are also supernatural elements to this, and even a bit of coming-of-age, as largely, this is about a young man coming into his own. However, I will say this - the journey is pretty damn brutal.
This could be compared to certain titles in which I compare the brutality of the first two acts of the movie to the vengeance factor of the third act. 'The Hills Have Eyes' and 'The Last House on the Left' are probably the heaviest examples of such a scenario. So fair trigger warning for this one, it does consist of such things as physical abuse towards a young girl and consistent bullying. However, when it comes to the performances of young Mason Thames as Finney and Madeleine McGraw as his sister, Gwen, I'm once again happy to announce that these are two young actors I'm convinced will make a name for themselves - if not for this, then something soon enough down the line.
The story here takes place in 1978, where the streets of a Denver suburb are being terrorized by a child abductor who has been dubbed "The Grabber" (Ethan Hawke). In the meantime, we follow Finney and Gwen Blake - the children of an alcoholic, abusive father, Terrence (Jeremy Davies). Finney is constantly bullied at school but does have a friendship with a boy named Robin (Miguel Cazarez Mora), who is there to fend off Finney's bullies. Gwen, like her late mother, experiences psychic dreams in which she can see who the Grabber abducts next, and one of these times happens to be her big brother.
Finney awakens in a soundproofed basement, faced with his kidnapper who promises not to harm him and even feeds him. However, on the wall is a black rotary phone, which the Grabber insists doesn't work. Yet when the Grabber is out of the room, Finney gets constant calls from it, from previous victims of the Grabber's kidnappings - from beyond the grave. All who have suffered one way or another before Finney, try to advise him through this black phone as to how the hell to get out of there in one piece. Meanwhile, Gwen tries to use her dreams to help the police catch the Grabber once and for all, as well as locate her brother, hopefully still alive, in the process.
I have to give it to the film for having its good share of imagination to give what is, again, an otherwise fairly typical plot scenario. I really liked the supernatural elements of this - especially when you get to see just who Finney is talking to over this phone. Performances were great, all around, and kudos to the movie for managing to keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time. It's one of those titles that I appreciate more and more, the more I give it any thought, and it certainly has the potential to grow on me over time. It may not quite make a Top 10 list by the end of 2022 - but more than likely a Top 20.