Feb 26, 2024

"The Black Phone": Updated version of "Boys Beware," teaching us that gay men are monsters.


The promo for The Black Phone, on Amazon Prime: "A sadistic killer kidnaps a teenage boy."  In 99% of these movies, it's a girl, and maybe the teenage boy will be old enough to be of beefcake interest.

Scene 1: North Denver, 1978.  A little league game, boys posturing for the girls in the stands. Finny (Mason Thames), the pitcher, almost strikes his opponent.  He pauses to gaze at the Girl of His Dreams. 

 This seems to distract him, since now Bruce knocks the ball out of the ball park for a home run.  Finney is upset.  No beefcake potential.  Mason Thames is 16 years old, so he was 13-14 when he filmed the movie. I'll keep watching anyway, to check for gay subtexts.  Plus, checking out 1978 is fun.

Scene 2:
Switch to the Opponent (Tristan Pravong), riding his bike home and pausing to flirt with girls.  So far this is heteronormative all the way down. Uh-oh, a black van drives slowly down the suburban streets -- the Opponent is done for!  

Fade to a montage of missing child posters, old cars, a skinned knee, a spilled booze bottle, a girl licking up blood, and the obligatory empty swing set. 

Scene 3: Finny having breakfast with his criticizing, glaring Dad (Jeremy Davies), who works at a nuclear facility (this will become important later, I assume).  Sister Gwen, who looks like she belongs on Little House on the Prairie, opens the bread box too loudly, upsetting Abusive Dad.

They walk to school, discussing whether they would prefer to marry Fonzie, Richie, or Potsie from Happy DaysWait -- Finny is gay and out, in 1978? The missing person fliers from four abducted boys are back up, even though they disappeared six months ago.  "You think that they will find them?" Finny asks.  "Not the way they want."   Morbid girl!

Scene 4: 
They pause to watch a fight between two long-haired delinquents (Miguel Cazarez Mora, J. Gavin Wilde).  One knocks the other unconscious, and continues to punch him until his face is a bloody mess.  The onlookers gasp.  

No consequences?  In 1978, juveniles were not punished for fighting, unless one of them ended up in the hospital.  

 Sister thinks the squashed-face guy had it coming, as he is a giant bully, but Finny disagrees: "No one deserves that!"

Back story: The Grabber has grabbed several boys.  There's an urban legend that if you say his name, he will grab you.  Sister doesn't believe it, but Finny does.

Scene 5: Class about the layers of the Earth, with a slide show (remember those?). Finny gazes at the Girl of His Dreams again.  So not gay; he was just playing along with the "Which Happy Days character will you marry" game. Personally, I'd marry Potsie, f*k Fonzie, and kill Richie.

Scene 6
: After class, in the hallway, Finny attracts the attention of a Bully (Jordan Isaiah White) and his cronies.  He tries to lose them and hide in the restroom, but they follow, and complain that he's trespassing: this restroom is for boys, not "fags."  Wait -- are they using "fag" as an all-purpose insult, or is Finny actually gay? 

Left: Ethan Hawke as the Grabber

Fortunately, the Delinquent from the fight in Scene 4 -- Robin -- comes in to wash more blood off his hands.  He promises to protect Finny, so the bullies scram.  

Finny immediately whips out his cock -- to use the urinal?  They discuss the fight earlier and Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- "the best movie ever!"  Then a grinning Robin invites Finney to his house after school to study.  Study what, his cock?  Holy cow, those guys are dating!

Scene 7:  Sister is called to the principal's office to talk to two detectives (Troy Rudeseal, E. Roger Mitchell): she told Missing Boy Bruce's sister that she had a dream that he was taken by a man with black balloons in his van.  Two black balloons were found at the crime scene, but that information was not released to the public.  What else does Gwen know?  "Nothing.  It's just that my dreams sometimes come true."

More after the break

Scene 8: Finny and Sister on the way home.  They pass the bullies, who nod respectfully.  Sister has a sleepover, so Finny is responsible for taking care of Dad.  Uh-oh.  But all he has to do is pry the beer bottles out of Dad's hands,  turn off the depressing music, and eat ice cream while watching a horror movie. 

When Finny awakens at dawn, Dad is attacking Sister  He is upset because the police came to his job to interrogate him about the black balloons.  "What do you know about the missing boys?" he asks.  "Nothing, and if you hit me again, I'll smash your booze bottle!" Dad just hits her harder.  Intervene, boy!  I know your Dad is twice as big as you, but do something!

Whimpering, the two siblings go to the living room to watch Davy and GoliathMarry Davy (after he grows up), f*k his dad, and eat Goliath.

Cut to Robin in a muscle shirt (not very impressive) walking past a deserted factory at night.  A black van pulls up, and a man in a mask and cape climbs out to meet him.  Fade to black.  Wait -- what kidnapper would hang out at a deserted factory at night, on the off-chance that a kid might saunter by?  This must be a pre-arranged meeting.  Robin must know the Grabber!

Scene 9:  Finny and Sister watching Emergency!  Marry Marco, f*k John, kill Mike. Dad gets a phone call and announces that Robin is....is.... Not dead, missing.  He's been missing for a couple of hours, and everyone has panicked?  Shouldn't the parents be asking if he's with Finny?  

Cut to men with flashlights, searching around the old factory.   Finny stays home to be comforted by  == ok, she's a major character, so I'll give her a name -- Gwen: "I know he was your...friend." "Don't say was," Finny complains.  "He's alive."  He asks Sister to try dreaming about his whereabouts.

Sister goes to her room, pulls out a secret stash of religious items (Dad is anti-religion?), and prays: "Finny needs his...friend. Help me have a dream that will let us find him."

Scene 10: With Robin gone, the bullies are free to attack Finny, but Sister Gwen rushes to the rescue, calling them "Cocksucking cowards!"  Ok, she's homophobic. 

Scene 11:  Time for the obligatory frog-dissection day.  Darn, Finny is not paired with the Girl of His Dreams: an unpopular girl sneaks in beside him.  

I'm tired of this, so I'll stop there.  Spoiler alert: The Grabber (Ethan Hawke) grabs boys that he thinks are hot, and imprisons them in a basement room.  Finny is his latest victim, but he gets survival tips from previous victims through the Black Phone. 

The Grabber's brother, Max (James Ransone), owns the house, but doesn't realize that the abductions and murders are occurring there.  When he finds out, he tries to rescue Finny, but is killed.

Don't worry, the Grabber dies, and Finny survives.  In the last scene With the evil gay guy out of the way, he is free to win the Girl of His Dreams.  Aww, heterosexuality triumps over the evil homa-sekshuls.

Beefcake: None, but there are some nude photos

Gay Characters: The Grabber.

Heterosexism: The gay serial killer is just a momentary distraction on the way to the Girl.

Homophobia:  The homophobic slurs are not just characteristic of the age.  Super-fundamentalist writer/director Scott Derrickson really does believe that all gay men are disgusting monsters.  This is an updated version of Boys Beware, the 1961 PSA teaching boys how to avoid being grabbed by gay men.

How could anyone in good conscious agree to perform in this movie?  How could anyone watch it?  

I was going to put some nude photos of Ethan Hawke and others on RG Beefcake and Boyfriends, but I'm too nauseated.


  1. This is a good psychological horror film with real suspense you should have watched until the end- a slight spoiler the ghost of grabber's victim try to help Finny.

    1. I suspected as much when two victims that we don't see getting grabbed appear in the IMDB.

  2. will write more later, but i would bet you on pretty high stakes that the fighting boy friend is named 'ruben' (*however spellt*), not robin. (& i do not wager lightly on uncertain outcomes with things i would mind losing xD)

    i think you might really like the ghosty-psychic parts of the story, & the bonding btwn the victim boys.

    also; daddy is worried about little sis because mom went crazy. there is ambiguity about whether mom was maybe also psychic, no ambiguity about sis. aside from sis, the girl characters are marginal to the story & almost the whole of the rest of the movie is about finN's ordeal. (& lab girl wins; i can barely remember pretty/popular girl, i don't think she does anything other than background in the rest of the movie)

    younger 1970's you would have liked all the cute guys & male bonding.

    (for comparison; i thought this one was much better than the near-contemporary movie, which your reviewed, with the 2 kidnapped baseball boys in a pedo ring pimp lady's house. both movies have holes in the story, but at least the characters in this one are not complete idiots! xD)

    best in any case,


    1. The actor is Hispanic, so "Ruben" would make more sense, but IMDB and Wikipedia both say "Robin," and Miguel's Instagram page is labeled "Actor...Model...Robin." I thought his name was an homage to Robin from the Batman comics; his opponent is Moose, which suggests Archie comics.

  3. I liked this movie a lot- a very satisfying thriller- no back story or reason is given why he kidnaps the boys-he is like the monster from a nightmare


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