Netflix has a new Stephen King movie just in time for the spooky season
October is the perfect time to watch horror movies with all the lights off, and Netflix hopes to enthrall horror fans with its latest film based on a short story by legendary author Stephen King.
Named Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, the spooky movie hit the streaming service earlier this week (Tuesday, October 5) and looks set to climb into the Top 10 as Halloween approaches. However, it’s another Netflix film that has mixed opinions, with viewers seeming more impressed than critics.
What is Mr. Harrigan’s phone talking about?
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone casts Jaeden Martell – no stranger to King adaptations, he also starred in 2017’s It – as Craig, a young boy living in a small town, who befriends reclusive billionaire Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland).
The unlikely duo quickly formed a close bond after bonding over their shared love of books and reading. Craig even gives Mr. Harrigan his first cell phone so the couple can keep in touch more easily. However, when Mr. Harrigan sadly passes away, Craig is shocked to find he can still communicate with his friend through the phone that was buried with him.
Even more disturbingly, Craig’s real-world tormentors begin to experience strange hauntings from a vengeful spirit that Craig suspects is Mr. Harrigan. Part coming-of-age tale and part horror movie, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is based on the popular short story from Stephen King’s If It Bleeds collection, first released in 2020.
What are the critics saying about Mr. Harrigan’s phone?
It’s fair to say that reviewers were less impressed with Mr. Harrigan’s phone. The film obtained a rather disappointing score of 30% on rotten tomatoes (opens in a new tab)and while that’s far from the lowest score a King adaptation has ever received (2016’s Cell only managed 11%), it’s still a pretty poor mark.
Brian Tallerico from RogerEbert.com (opens in a new tab) praised Sutherland and Martell’s performances, but joked that “you’re going to want to send this one to voicemail”. IndieWire (opens in a new tab)David Ehrlich was even more incisive, stating “such source material from the back of the drawer proves to be an insurmountable drawback to John Lee Hancock’s Netflix adaptation of the same name, a downcast and utterly appalling supernatural drama”.
Benjamin Lee of Guardian (opens in a new tab) wasn’t particularly impressed either, saying “It’s all rather annoying and unforgivable, a call to be quickly ignored.” And audiovisual club (opens in a new tab)‘s Courtney Howard concluded their review by noting that the film “feels more like a stern adult lecture than a disturbing cautionary tale”.
Positive articles are currently quite rare, but Slashfilm (opens in a new tab) called the film “an old-school ghost story”. Plus, it already looks like another case of critics and viewers disagreeing, as Mr. Harrigan’s phone currently enjoys a much more positive audience score of 63%.
Should you release Mr. Harrigan’s phone?
Many of the biggest new Halloween 2022 movies are only hitting theaters with Smile and Halloween Ends which are not currently available to stream. So if you’re looking to host a horror marathon at home, it’s definitely worth considering giving Mr. Harrigan’s phone a watch.
It’s unlikely to be the scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen – it’s only rated PG-13 after all – but Sutherland and Martell seem to be in top form, and the premise seems ripe. for a pleasant scary feeling. Critics aren’t particularly impressed, but don’t discount the film entirely, as Netflix subscribers are clearly forming a stronger connection with it.