Released in October of this year, Mr. Harrington’s Phone is based on a novella by Stephen King. It was part of a collection called If It Bleeds, which I reviewed here. This alone would have been enough to warrant attention. But when we add that it was produced by Ryan Murphy, who seems determined to take over Netflix and Hulu, this movie became unavoidable.

I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint. 

Starring Donald Sutherland and Jaeden Martell, this is the tale of a young man named Craig. He befriends an old man in her town named Mr. Harrington. And he might just be the only friend this mean old son of a bitch has ever had in his life. 

Donald Sutherland as Mr. Harrington.

Mr. Harrington is a ruthless man. He’s self-centered and vicious. But he takes a liking to Craig. In addition to paying him five dollars an hour to read to him, Mr. Harrington also sends Craig scratch-off cards for holidays. Most of the time the cards don’t amount to much of anything. But one fateful card won him three thousand dollars. 

Craig happened to get a cell phone for Christmas on the same day. So, he decides to get Mr. Harrington a phone. To be clear, the old man doesn’t even have a radio in his house. But after Craig shows him how to check stock options, Harrington is hooked.

Over the years, Mr. Harrington becomes a pseudo-grandfather to Craig. When Harrington finally passed, Craig is broken up about it. He even puts Mr. Harrington’s phone in his pocket before the old man is laid to rest. 

Jaeden Martell as Craig in Mr. Harrington's Phone

Craig finds out that Mr. Harrington’s phone is still active. So now and then, Craig calls the number and leaves a voice mail as a way to feel like he’s reaching out to his friend.

One day, after an asshole at school beats Craig up, he calls Mr. Harrington’s phone to vent. Soon after that, he gets a text from the same number. The one who shouldn’t have been able to call. The next day, Craig’s bully isn’t in any fit shape to bully anyone ever again. Or take another breath, for that matter.

This was a slow boil of a horror film. There aren’t any jump scares. There’s not much blood, no gore. There are only three dead bodies in the whole movie. And yet, it’s a scary movie. Not because Craig’s kind of grandpa reaches through the veil of death to bump off his enemies. It’s scary because the only time something bad happens to someone is when Craig himself decides to call Mr. Harrington’s phone.

What’s scary is what it takes for a good, kind boy to be pushed to that point. What’s scary is what’s left of that boy after that decision is made. 

I love this movie. I think we all have that one relative that’s great to us, but a monster to everyone else. This might be a good movie to watch with them. But, maybe don’t mention if someone is bullying you. We can’t always control how those who love us will choose to protect us.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)