Kind blue eyes. That’s the most striking part of the poster for The Black Phone, the latest Blumhouse horror movie from director Scott Derrickson. Filling the poster is the face of the Grabber, a kidnapper and child murderer who terrorizes a Denver suburb in 1978, covered with speckled gray paint. A mask covers the Grabber’s jaw, giving the killer an unsettling permanent grin, while a top hat and wide glasses accentuate his upper face. But it’s those eyes that stand out the most, somehow kind and sad, despite their ghastly surroundings, making the Grabber all the more terrifying.
In that one image, we see the secret to Ethan Hawke’s late-career turn toward horror. After establishing himself as one of the greatest leading men from Generation X, Hawke developed a reputation for playing sensitive and vulnerable characters, given to fits of thoughtful melancholy. But with movies such as The Purge, The Black Phone, and even the Marvel television show Moon Knight, Hawke is reinventing himself as a true scream king.