Mr Harrigan's Phone doesn't deliver much excitement or scares, the very thin plot making it evident that it's based on a short story.
WRITTEN BY BECCA JOHNSON / OCTOBER 11, 2022
Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Founder), Mr Harrigan's Phone is a straight to Netflix Stephen King adaptation starring Jaeden Martell (It) and Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games). A young boy named Craig (Martell) forms a bond with elderly billionaire Mr. Harrigan (Sutherland) after he is employed to read to him three days a week. Craig purchases him an iPhone and teaches him to use it, but when Mr.Harrigan passes away, Craig soon learns that not everything dead is gone...
Mr. Harrigan's Phone is a middle of the road flick from the get-go. It has a very basic and slow premise that doesn't deliver much excitement or scares, the very thin plot making it evident that it's based on a short story. It feels overstretched and too long for what it's trying to do. There's not a whole lot going on here, the supernatural element being it's saving grace in keeping you invested. Unfortunately, it's horror elements are very few and far between; this is first and foremost a character study with deeper messages. If you're prepared to look for them, you may find enjoyment. This is advertised as a supernatural horror thriller, which is far from what's delivered.
We spend a lot of time with our two lead characters, who are both interesting enough to give this a watch. Craig is a lonely individual, who struggles to bond with his Father after losing his Mother. Mr. Harrigan is a very reclusive billionaire who wasn't well received during his earlier business days. The unlikely friendship theme is an intriguing one to explore, and the best scenes occur when the pair are bonding and chatting. Unfortunately, most of the side characters are too surface level to fully get behind, although there's a sprinkling of good scenes involving Craig's Father and his teacher, Ms. Hart. Kenny Yankovich, the school bully, was a disappointing character. He was very run-of-the-mill and often cartoonish, falling into all the tropes you'd imagine when discussing a bully.
What makes the two lead characters so likeable and interesting is the performances behind them. It should come as no surprise that Donald Sutherland puts in an excellent turn as Mr. Harrigan, commanding the screen every time he is present. This may not be one of Jaeden Martell's most demanding roles yet, but he did manage to deliver, creating a believable character. This isn't the first time we've seen him in the shy teenager role, but he does it justice. The pair work excellently together.
Before going into Mr. Harrigan's Phone, it may be best to manage expectations. If you're looking for a spooky season horror flick, this may not manage to scratch that itch. However, if you fancy something slower with tension building, a semi-interesting mystery and character building, this may just be worth your time. Ultimately, this is what makes Mr. Harrigan's Phone so middle of the road; it may not deliver what you expect it to, but it does deliver something. Despite it's slow pace and lack of thrills, there is something here that's pulling you in, whether that's the characters, performances or the need to get to the bottom of why that phone keeps on ringing.
Mr. Harrigan's Phone isn't the best Stephen King adaptation, nor the best Netflix Original, but it's certainly not the worst either. It's watchable performances, interesting characters and central mystery may make this worth your time, but it's thinly stretched plot and lack of scares and thrills also give it the potential to make you feel as though you've wasted 105 minutes. It certainly has deeper messages; they're just not very unique or well developed, and you may not feel compelled to look for them.