By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)
‘Mr Harrigan’s Phone’ is a moving but dark film about a young boy’s friendship with a reclusive old billionaire and how his death leaves the teen distraught. The problem is, it’s marketed as a ‘horror’ movie, while it should’ve been tailored as a psychological drama, with a few tweaks to the script.
Based on a short story by Stephen King, the 2022 film has been directed and written for the screen by John Lee Hancock. An imposing, intimidating Donald Sutherland plays the aging Mr Harrigan, who hires school-boy Craig (Jaeden Martell) to read out books for him thrice a week. On the day of Harrigan’s funeral, Craig put the man’s iphone in the coffin and returns home. Later that evening, the grief-stricken boy leaves a text on the deceased man’s number and is shocked to receive a response. Is it a glitch, a hacker or Mr Harrigan trying to communicate from the grave?
The first half of the film was all about the two men forging a special bond over classics and the first iphone. Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell’s onscreen friendship blooms so beautifully, it mitigated the impatience and irritation I should have felt in anticipation for the horror part to finally unravel. Last seen in Netflix’s ‘Metal Lords’ as teen drummer Kevin, Martell brings a certain poignancy to a story that would’ve been laughable in the second-half if not for the serious performances.
“When the Gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.” Mr Harrigan’s Phone begins with this ominous quote by Oscar Wilde, and is further peppered with lots of snippets from popular classics. Had the makers stuck to the realism of some of the stories the two protagonists dwell upon, this could’ve been a fantastic psychological drama of how the demise of a dear friend affects the mental health of a young boy. Instead, viewers get a muddled ‘horror’ tale which isn’t scary at all, forget the ‘this doesn’t make sense’ aspect. Horror fans are willing to suspend logic and ignore loopholes, if they get the kind of gore, dread and chills the genre has to offer.
Regardless, I enjoyed watching ‘Mr Harrigan’s Phone’ and am going with a 7/10 rating for the human tale in it.
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