The Black Phone Featurette Gives Us More Of Ethan Hawke's Menacing Villain

If "The Black Phone" isn't already on your radar, here's a two-word reason it should be: Ethan Hawke. The actor previously starred in director Scott Derrickson's "Sinister" as a true crime writer haunted by extremely creepy super 8 footage. This time, he's returning to horror for the latest Derrickson project, only he's the one set to do the scaring.

In a new featurette titled "The Black Phone – A Look Inside," which centers on Hawke, the actor explains why he rarely takes on villain roles. "It's very rare to see me playing bad guys because if you do it right people believe you are the spawn of Satan," the actor says, describing the unique challenge of nailing a role like the criminal the film calls the Grabber. "The good news is," he adds, "it might be the time for me to go to the dark side." Watch the full featurette below.

The Grabber's serving breakfast – and scares

Though some of the featurette's footage pulls from existing trailers, it offers the clearest look we've had so far at the villain from the film, which based on writer Joe Hill's original story. At one point, the Grabber appears beside an ominous black van, fumbling with groceries like he's performing an awkward klutz routine. Later, we see that he's captured the movie's protagonist, Finney (Mason Thames). He's serving Finney breakfast, and when the boy asks what he put in it, the masked Grabber answers "salt and pepper" with a freaky giggle.

Hawke digs into the psychology of the character, who wears disturbing customized masks to obscure his identity. Hawke invokes the feeling of telling a scary story to friends, implying that The Grabber is akin to an urban legend-type figure. He explains that "some part of his soul has been so eroded that he can justify things that most of us don't even want to think about," which we know from the trailers includes, but isn't limited to, kidnapping several teenage boys.

It's also quite clear from this footage that "The Black Phone" follows in the visual footsteps of "Sinister," incorporating eerie super 8 clips just like Derrickson's terrifying 2012 film did. Hawke says the film is "like a sibling movie to 'Sinister' that's going to a deeper, stranger place." In a break from run-of-the-mill featurette format, this clip plays heavy suspense music over Hawke's words, jaggedly edits his talking head clips, and at one point even superimposes the Grabber mask over his face. The result is an effective pitch for the movie from a talented actor who always chooses interesting and eclectic projects.

"The Black Phone" hits theaters June 24, 2022. Hawke suggests you see it with friends late at night, because "being scared out of your mind is what the film is about."