Trace holes and mysteries in the black phone

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The black phone is a relatively easy concept to grasp. The movie is a period piece set in Denver in 1978. Children started disappearing and the media, along with the police, coined this villain as The Grabber. He makes five victims before seizing the sixth which is the main character of Finney.



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Most of the film takes place with Finney trying to escape The Grabber’s basement. There is, however, a twist. A black phone is in the corner and the line is cut so Finney can’t dial the number. However, it still sounds like it somehow. What’s going on with this phone and what other details remain unanswered? There will be spoilers for The black phone.

8 The black phone

There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding the titular black phone. What is that? This is the simplest question to ask, but many questions can arise from it. How can Finney hear it ringing? Does he have gifts like his sister or is this phone magic? Many times in the movies, it looks like he’s breathing. Either way, this phone allows Finney to talk to the dead. The phone might not even be special at all, as the house or area might be haunted instead. There are so many mysteries with this one seemingly normal phone.


seven The police are puzzled

How are the police so baffled by these kidnappings? They know the criminal is leaving black balloons behind and it seems like they have a good idea that they are also driving a van. That should suffice in what looks like a small town. Couldn’t they go to stores and find out how many black balloons are selling and if there is a paper trail? Couldn’t they also look at businesses with vans or ones that are seemingly child-centric? An artist such as The Grabber should raise a lot of red flags, but detectives in this town are puzzled beyond belief.

6 What was the game?

One of the ghost children eventually alerts Finney that The Grabber has set a trap. He sometimes leaves the door unlocked on purpose so he can beat the child if he tries to escape. It’s called the naughty boy.

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Is this the only game The Grabber has in mind or is the basement also a game? It’s kind of like an escape room scenario where the player, aka Finney, is given little information and equipment. Still, there are rugs, his bed, the toilet, the window, and several other things that could help him escape. Did The Grabber also leave this all as part of Naughty Boy or was he just distracted?


5 Finney’s Escape Plan

Eventually, Finney manages to escape from the basement after one of the kids tells him that The Grabber is sleeping. Finney sneaks upstairs, unlocking the combination lock just as the dog begins to bark. Finney books him just as The Grabber starts chasing him with his van. In his cries, Finney alerts two houses. Their front lights come on but no one gets out. Oddly, they didn’t do anything as the black van was oddly parked and still on. Also, why didn’t Finney run to another house and knock on the door? Even better, he could have run into the backyards so the van couldn’t chase him.


4 The work of the grapple

Along with the telephone, The Grabber is one of the biggest mysteries in film. What is his job? He says he’s an artist but The black phone never show it at work. Is he still working or is the van just a cover for something else? Also, why is he grabbing kids in the first place and playing Naughty Boy? He makes it look like he too was locked in the basement at some point, meaning either he took over from another captor or his father mistreated him. Not knowing the origins of a horror movie’s villain is part of what makes the genre scary. Still, it would have been nice to have had a nugget of history.


3 Max

Max is the only thing the public gets The black phone regarding The Grabber’s personal history. Max tells detectives that he lost his job and is only temporarily staying with his brother. Since he is babysitting in the basement and he knows Max is also trying to investigate this mystery, why did The Grabber let him stay?

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The better question is, why did The Grabber leave Max alone? Max could have easily walked into the basement before he was murdered. Shouldn’t Max have been suspicious of his brother when he saw that the front door was locked with a combination lock? It’s not a normal thing that people use as house locks.


2 Finney and Gwen’s mother

It is said in the film that Gwen and Finney had a mother who committed suicide. She saw things that didn’t exist and acted on voices. What those actions were, Terrence never says. She could have seen ghosts like Gwen or her dreams might have led her into more murder mysteries. Anyway, Terrence didn’t believe her. This could have been one of the causes of her suicide because she no longer saw love in her husband. She could also have been killed by a ghost, which would be a bigger twist. Besides, will this discomfort also happen to Gwen?


1 The Significance of Finney’s Spaceship

There are two spaceships shown in The black phone. The first is seen after the opening baseball game. The camera continues to pan back to Finney in the field with his rocket ship and Bruce riding his bike around town. The other spaceship is a flashlight and pen combo that Finney uses at school and in other scenes in the film. Is there a meaning behind his fascination with spaceships or were those two things meant to be a theme in the movie instead? It could be a combination of the two ideas, but it’s hard to say right now.

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