The black phone just hit theaters and is the latest in a series of horror films to feature a terrifying phone call. Some of these scary horror movie phone calls are supernatural in nature, acting either as a warning as in The black phone or threaten the person on the other end as in Black Christmas.
Sometimes killers use phone calls to terrorize their victims, as in Scream but sometimes potential victims also use them to call for help as in When a stranger calls. Phone calls are an effective dramatic tool used in horror films to terrify audiences.
The Black Phone (2022)
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The black phone features several chilling phone calls between Finney and The Grabber’s previous victims. When captured, Finney learns that the old phone on the wall isn’t working and looks like it isn’t even connected. However, it doesn’t take long for the phone to ring and the film takes a more supernatural turn.
Finney receives advice from previous victims on how to escape and there are several moments when their ghosts appear alongside him in the damp basement. As the kids try to help Finney, the phone calls are weird and scary as most of them have forgotten who they once were, but still warn him about The Grabber’s twisted games.
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Scream became famous for its opening scene in which Casey Becker receives a chilling phone call while home alone. The creepy voice on the phone asks Casey to answer questions about horror movies in order to save her boyfriend’s life. After answering a question incorrectly, her boyfriend is murdered in front of her and she is chased by the infamous Ghostface.
Casey is brutally killed by Ghostface and when her parents return they find her body hanging from a tree, causing her mother to let out one of the best horror movie screams of all time. Although her murder is bloody and vicious, it’s the chilling phone call that sets the tone for the scene and has become a key story element throughout the rest of the film. Scream series.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
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the original freddie sees the teenagers of Elm Street targeted in their dreams by razor-fingered Freddy Krueger. The film’s protagonist, Nancy discovers that she can bring Freddy out of the dream world in order to defeat him, and eventually realizes that it is the fear of his victims that gives him power.
While the film is famous for its gruesome deaths and bizarre dream sequences, it also features a gruesome phone call. Despite disconnecting the phone, Nancy receives a call from Freddy, with the killer telling her, “I’m your boyfriend now.” A grotesque tongue then appears from the end of the phone and tries to lick Nancy; it’s a small moment but nevertheless memorable how disgusting it is.
The Ring (2002)
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the ring focuses on a cursed videotape that kills people seven days after watching it. The visuals on the videotape are unsettling and stay with the viewer long after watching the film. After watching the tape, Rachel receives a phone call where an unknown voice whispers “seven days”.
Samara is one of the biggest horror movie villains with almost no screen time and her disembodied voice on the phone is enough to give anyone nightmares. While Samara stepping off the television is perhaps the film’s most iconic moment, the simplicity of the phone call confirming the curse is terrifying.
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Being the fifth film in the franchise, it’s important that Scream 2022 stood out but it still opens with a horribly familiar call from Ghostface. High school student Tara is home alone when she receives a phone call from a stranger who asks her to answer some questions about the Stab franchise (based on the events of the previous Scream movies).
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During the call, Tara begs Ghostface to ask her about high horror movies such as Hereditary and The witch. After getting the last question on Stab incorrect, she is attacked in her home. However, in an interesting twist on the original, Tara survives beyond this phone confrontation and becomes a main character in the film.
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Orphan It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to terrifying phone calls, but it’s actually the key to the horror movie villain’s startling reveal. Throughout the film, Esther terrorizes her new adoptive family and does her best to isolate her mother, Kate.
After growing suspicious of Esther, Kate begins researching her past. While in the hospital, Kate receives a phone call that leaves her in shock. she is informed that Esther is actually a grown woman with a rare disease. Esther often attempts to seduce the men of the families she is in and it is this phone call that gives the audience the shocking twist.
When a Stranger Calls (2006)
Stream on Hulu
When a stranger calls centers on a young woman named Jill who is targeted by a man on the phone while babysitting. At first, Jill thinks she is being set up, but after the stranger suggests she see her, she calls the police who then try to trace the calls.
With each call that goes through, the tension rises and grows. The caller asking ‘have you checked the kids?’ followed later by Jill being told that the calls are coming from inside the house, it’s tricky. Phone calls are key in this movie and most of the horror comes from Jill being terrorized by someone she can’t see.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Stream on AMC+
The iconic Thesilenceofthelambs sees an FBI trainee, Clarice, converse with an imprisoned cannibal and serial killer, Hannibal, in order to better understand an active serial killer, Buffalo Bill. As their meetings continue, Clarice is able to profile Buffalo Bill and track him down.
Although the film’s main plot centered on the pursuit of Buffalo Bill, it was the scenes between Clarice and Hannibal that became iconic. Having escaped earlier in the film, Hannibal calls upon Clarice in the final scene. She is surprised to hear his voice on the other end of the line and is shaken when he tells her he “has an old friend for dinner” before hanging up.
A Missed Call (2003)
Stream on Shudder, AMC+ and Tubi
A missed call is a Japanese horror film in which people receive a voicemail where they can hear themselves apparently being killed. A few days after receiving these voicemails, the recipients died. After her friend is killed by the “curse”, Yuki begins to look into the strange phenomenon but gets more than she bargains for.
As the film progresses, it becomes clear that the voicemails detail how the recipient will actually die. Due to the premise and the supernatural element, one last call puts an interesting twist on the usual horror movie phone call.
Black Christmas (1974)
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70s horror black christmas is a true cult classic and centers on a group of sorority sisters who start receiving threatening phone calls over the Christmas period. The phone calls quickly progress as a killer begins to target the sorority girls and eliminate them.
Similar to When a stranger calls, near the end of the film, Jess calls the police for help and is told to flee as the calls are coming from inside the house. The progression from chilling phone calls to death and violence helps build real tension. Although it was one of the first slasher films, it remains one of the most effective.
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