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Ethan Hawke doesn't kid around in a brand-new featurette for Universal Pictures' The Black Phone, where he calls his character — a depraved lunatic who enjoys kidnapping and murdering children — "a spawn of Satan." Put another way, "he's not a good person. Some part of his soul has been so eroded, that he can justify the things that most of us don't even want to think about."
While it's been very rare for the actor to accept villainous roles throughout his career, he states that now is the right time to "go to the dark side." Hawke recently proved himself capable of nefarious machinations in the Moon Knight series on Disney+. When it rains, it pours.
Inspired by the short story of the same name written by spawn of Stephen King Joe Hill, the upcoming feature adaptation (in theaters everywhere June 24) marks the second horror collaboration between Hawke and writer-director Scott Derrickson, who previously teamed up for 2012's Sinister. Indeed, Hawke calls The Black Phone a companion piece to that project, and it's not hard to see why. Based on the featurette, it looks like Derrickson will once again dip into the medium of grainy home movies, turning cartridges of Super 8 celluloid into pure nightmare fuel, just like he did with Sinister.
Kicking off in 1970s suburbia, the story centers around Finney Shaw (Mason Thames), a 13-year-old boy who finds himself a captive of the aforementioned killer, whom the public has dubbed "The Grabber." Trapped in the man's dingy and soundproof basement, Finney attempts to escape a certain doom by relying on supernatural advice from The Grabber's previous victims, who make contact from beyond the grave via the titular telephone.
"I always like to picture a group of friends going to a movie theater at midnight because being scared out of your mind is what the film is about," Hawke says in the video above.
Madeleine McGraw (Outcast), Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan), and James Ransone (It: Chapter Two) round out the main cast. Derrickson and co-screenwriter C. Robert Cargill produced the film alongside Jason Blum. Ryan Turek and Christopher H. Warner are executive producers. While writing the script, Derrickson drew on his old turbulent childhood growing up in Colorado.
"People were fighting all the time, a lot of people were bleeding. At that time, the Manson murders had just happened. Ted Bundy had just come through Colorado. I grew up hearing about kids getting abducted, seeing faces on milk cartons," the filmmaker said last year. "When I was 8-years-old, my friend knocked on my door and told me somebody had murdered his mom."