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Review: Thriller 'The Black Phone' Is Captivating, Really

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Ethan Hawke, left, and Mason Thames in a scene from "The Black Phone."  (Universal Pictures via AP)
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Ethan Hawke, left, and Mason Thames in a scene from "The Black Phone." (Universal Pictures via AP)
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(AP) -- Phones in serial killer movies are usually used by the deranged hunters to taunt the police or carefully tell victims how they’ll die. But in “The Black Phone” it’s the other way around, fitting for a horror-thriller that flips many of the genre’s formula.

The serial killer at the heart of Scott Derrickson's latest film is clueless about the chunky wall-mounted rotary phone in his soundproof dungeon. He tells his victims it hasn't worked in years. They think otherwise: They use it to communicate with each other.