This review contains minor spoilers
With Spooky Season officially here, new movies and series are being released all month long both in theaters and on streaming platforms. Netflix’s latest supernatural film to drop is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone based on Stephen King’s short story.
It is directed and written by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), and produced by Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story), Jason Blum (Blumhouse Productions) and Carla Hacken (The Book of Henry). Starring Jaeden Martell (It), Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games), Joe Tippett (Mare of Easttown), Kirby Howell-Baptiste (The Good Place) and Cyrus Arnold (8-Bit Christmas), the movie takes us back to the early 2000s with the arrival of the first iPhone.
The official synopsis provided by Netflix is: “When Craig, a young boy living in a small town (Jaeden Martell) befriends Mr. Harrigan, an older, reclusive billionaire (Donald Sutherland), 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.”
Craig finally convinces Mr. Harrigan to get an iPhone after showing him he can see the stock market numbers in live time through an app. At one point, Mr. Harrigan discusses with Craig his fears about the instant and free access to information around the world via a mobile device. He aptly highlights the large possibility of the spread of false information in the near future. When Mr. Harrigan passes away, Craig decides to leave Mr. Harrigan’s phone in his coffin with him.
Craig begins to realize he can still contact Mr. Harrigan’s phone and that Mr. Harrigan may have had something to do with the recent death of his bully who he never could stand up to. Craig begins to put this theory to the test a few years later by using his old phone to contact Mr. Harrigan and ask for a favor. This favor is met but leaves Craig regretting it and rethinking the morality of what has been done.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone isn’t the film to choose to watch if you’re in the mood for a horror film with jump scares. The horror and supernatural elements are subtle and lie more in the reality that we have become reliant on technology, but more specifically, our mobile devices. We never see any ghosts, but the very idea that someone on the other side can take revenge on the living is eerie in itself.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is streaming on Netflix.
Helen Roumeliotis is the Editor-in-Chief at Popternative and currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Mediations at Carleton University. She enjoys writing and learning about how pop culture can be used as tools for education. You can follow her on Instagram @helenroum.
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