WillDraugelis’s review published on Letterboxd:
I wouldn't even have the balls to answer the black phone in the basement, just would've sent it to voicemail. Thankfully Scott Derrickson, Ethan Hawke, and crew answered the call and made one of the better horror movies in recent memory. And you can definitely take my word for it, because I'm not even really that big of a horror fan. I feel like most of the horror films I have liked in recent years have had somewhat a comedic element to them. But in terms of just straight horror, this is definitely one of the best in recent memory. And I think a big reason behind that it is just trying to be a horror film. I don't mind if movies try to have some underlying meaning, but it just feels that lately, horror movies have become overly pretentious.
Like I said above, I appreciated that this just had a somewhat simple premise to it. Not overly complicated or ever trying to figure out what is happening, you got what you saw. I do think that some elements of the film could've been written a little more strongly, but for the most part I really thought the writing was on point.
I do wish that they would've showed the kids more terrified of what was happening. Both Finn and Gwen just seemed so calm, cool, and collected throughout the film. I wish we got a scene that showed them legitimately terrified of what was happening to them or what was happening around them. My only other complaint has to do with the end of the movie and the final resolution between Finn and The Grabber. It seemed to go quicker and easier than I wanted. But trying to avoid spoilers so I'll just leave it at that.
The best thing about this movie though is Mr. Ethan Hawke as the aforementioned Grabber. I can't think of a time he has ever played a villain, but I think he needs to more often after this. I was caught off guard how much smaller of a supporting character he was then I figured going in. I mean he is on the poster for gosh sakes. But I liked how limited his screen time was, that he had no backstory and that Hawke just chewed up the scenery when it was time to get on screen. Special shoutout though to the kids who played Finn and Gwen, as I thought they were also very good in the movie.
I think that this is a movie that will be a hit both with the horror crowd and even just the general moviegoing audience as a whole. Like I said, I'm not even a horror fan and I enjoyed it very much. So if you aren't either, maybe still look to give it a watch. So while I can't encourage someone to pick up an actual ringing black phone, I can encourage you to go on your phone to get tickets for this one.