The Screen Room
Mr. Harrigan's Phone (2022)
Last Saturday night during a routine “flick through” on Netflix, Mrs Screen Room Movie Blog yet again suggested a movie I might not have watched had I been left to my own “set in my ways” devices (no pun intended).
Mr. Harrigan's Phone (2022)
If you haven’t seen it, it’s a mystery/drama/horror (light on the horror) written for the screen and directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) and starring Jaeden Martell (IT) and Donald Sutherland (A Time to Kill) among others.
It’s based on the novella of the same name by horror legend, Stephen King and is from his latest collection called, “If It Bleeds”.
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“When Craig (Martell), a young boy living in a small town befriends Mr. Harrigan (Sutherland), an older, reclusive billionaire, the two begin to form an unlikely bond over their love of books and reading. But when Mr. Harrigan sadly passes away, Craig discovers that not everything is dead and gone and strangely finds himself able to communicate with his friend from the grave through the iPhone in this supernatural coming-of-age story that shows that certain connections are never lost.”
Considering this was a “take a chance watch” I really enjoyed it. I’ve come to realise that quite often knowing nothing, or very little about a film going in can significantly enhance my enjoyment of it. As soon as I read that it was about a boy receiving text messages from beyond the grave I was sold. I love that kind of stuff!
The story, although a little slow to begin with kept me interested to the point where I had to keep watching to get answers to all of my questions; Was Mr. Harrigan buried alive? Did someone take his phone from the casket? Is he communicating from the afterlife? Is it all in Craig’s mind?
It soon picked up pace though and before I knew it I was fully invested.
Jaeden Martell and Donald Sutherland play the two main characters (Craig and Mr. Harrington), and the story is essentially built on the relationship they form over a number of years during the first part of the film. I found their scenes together to be some of the best in the movie and I really bought into their friendship.
Jaeden Martell is excellent in this movie! I loved him in St. Vincent (2014) and he was great in the “IT” films but he really seems to have mastered his craft now. At the still young age of 19 I can easily see him becoming one of the best actors of his generation and I’m interested to see what he does next and in the future (even the upcoming Lost Boys remake).
Donald Sutherland is also brilliant, and although sadly looking his age these days (87) he still has a commanding presence that just makes him captivating to watch.
There are a few red herrings here and there that at times had me convinced I knew what was going on. However all of my theories turned out to be wrong by the end which I’m kind of glad about. I hate it when a film like this is so obvious that there are no surprises.
This film is categorised as a drama/mystery/horror but if you tend to shy away from “scary movies” don’t be put off by this one. Aside from the mysterious, seemingly supernatural goings on there’s nothing really “horror” about it. It’s definitely more of a mystery/drama, and a decent one at that.
I don’t know if it’s the whole point or not but I very much took this film as a metaphor for our increasing reliance and obsession with mobile devices. Whether that was Stephen King’s intention I couldn’t say but I definitely recognised a part of myself in the story. I’m on my phone way too much, to the point where I sometimes forget to look up and see the world around me.
There’s a line in the film where Donald Sutherland’s character says, “Henry David Thoreau said, “We don't own things; things own us.”” It’s very true and I think a lot of us could benefit from rethinking our relationships with our phones in particular.
This movie has good characters, an interesting premise, a great score by Javier Navarrete (Pan’s Labyrinth) that perfectly matches the tone of the film and a meaningful message.
Will all of your questions be answered by the end credits? That depends entirely on your questions, but it’s a compelling watch that made me glad I watched it but left me wishing that I A) Still had my first iPhone (3GS) and B) Knew someone with a load of money who liked me enough to leave me some.
It might not be typical Halloween viewing but I highly recommend checking this out, especially if you’re a fan of Stephen King and/or enjoy a decent movie with a bit of mystery and some great performances.
It’s currently in the top 10 on Netflix.
Seen it? Let me know what you think.👇