The Forgotten Stephen King Thriller On Netflix He Calls “Nothing short of brilliant”

Stephen King Netflix
Courtesy of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS and Netflix

Marketing can make or break a movie. In today’s digital age, there’s a conversation worth having about the way third-party firms cut and release movie trailers. Often, they show too much—at times revealing the ending itself—and release with outrageous frequency. Think previews for a trailer for a trailer itself. Similarly, they can wildly mislead audiences.

Not in a fun, subversive way, either, but in that it strongly suggests a movie is something it’s not. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, one of the better Stephen King adaptations in recent years, was constrained by its marketing. It’s now streaming on Netflix, so I’d encourage you to check it out before reading anything else about it.

Per Netflix: Craig, a young boy living in a small town befriends an older, reclusive billionaire, Mr. Harrigan. The two form a bond over books and an iPhone, but when the man passes away, the boy discovers that not everything dead is gone, and finds himself able to communicate with his friend from the grave through the iPhone that was buried with him.

Netflix heavily marketed Mr. Harrigan’s Phone as a horror movie. It certainly has some horror elements—namely our protagonist communicating with the dead—but the scares themselves are peripheral to what is otherwise a domestic drama. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone tackles bullying, aging, guilt, and grief considerably more than it does conventional scare tactics.

In a lot of ways, I suspect the forthcoming Stephen King adaptation The Life of Chuck is going to go over with audiences the same way. Yes, most audience members know King doesn’t strictly write horror—and some of his strongest work isn’t genre work at all—but broadly, it’s what he’s known for. Put Mike Flanagan and Stephen King together? People are going to think it’s scary.

Stephen King has praised Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, and I have to agree (mostly). It is one of the strongest adaptations of his work, even if the marketing is undoubtedly going to leave some folks disappointed.

What do you think? Have you had a chance to check out Mr. Harrigan’s Phone on Netflix yet? Let me know over on Twitter @Chadiscollins.



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