Mr. Harrigan's Phone

The Stephen King adaptation renaissance shows no signs of going away anytime soon. Since King is so prolific and pumps out approximately a bajillion books a year, there will always be material to adapt. Case in point: Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, a short story that appeared in King’s recently published collection If It Bleeds, is now becoming a Netflix film. Blumhouse and Ryan Murphy are producing the flick for Netflix, with Saving Mr. Banks filmmaker John Lee Hancock attached to write and direct.

Per THR, Blumhouse and Ryan Murphy will produce Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, a new Netflix movie from writer-director John Lee Hancock. The film is an adaptation of the Stephen King short story of the same name, featured in King’s recently published collection If It Bleeds. In the story, a teenager named Craig starts doing odd-jobs for Mr. Harrigan, an elderly, eccentric billionaire who has moved into Craig’s small town.

The story begins during the release of the first iPhone, and Craig is able to buy one after winning a scratch-off lottery ticket he received from Mr. Harrigan. Craig introduces the old man to the iPhone, and the billionaire is fascinated by the tech, and (correctly) predicts that all the free access to information available on the phone will eventually have consequences. Craig ends up buying Harrigan a phone of his own, which the old man reluctantly accepts and then grows to be obsessed with.

When Harrigan dies, Craig slips the phone into the dead man’s pocket right before his casket is closed and he’s lowered into the earth. Later, in true Stephen King fashion, Craig finds he’s able to text the dead Harrigan, and the dead man is able to text back. Sort of. But the beyond-the-grave relationship goes beyond simple conversation. Craig discovers he’s able to send Harrigan’s ghost out into the world to seek revenge against those who have wronged him. This all sounds very convoluted, and not particularly original – the theme of someone calling from beyond the grave is a very, very old story device, and was even used on The Twilight Zone. But because King is such a good writer, and so skilled at building his characters, the story ends up seeming fresh, and creepy.

While I have no doubt this material can make for a good film, I’m not entirely sure John Lee Hancock is the person to do it. But maybe Hancock will surprise me and turn out to be skilled at horror. Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum will both produce, with Blumhouse Television’s Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold executive producing.

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