Black Phone writer C. Robert Cargill discusses the origins of the Grabber’s mask and its importance in establishing the character’s backstory.
The black phone Writer C. Robert Cargill discusses the origins of the Grabber’s mask and its importance in establishing the character’s backstory. Having teamed up with strange doctor director Scott Derrickson once more after the success of 2012 Claim, the couple adapted Joe Hill’s terrifying short story for the big screen. Starring Ethan Hawke, alongside a remarkable young cast that includes Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw, The black phone reviews were positive, and the box office opening was incredibly successful, grossing over $23 million domestically in its first weekend.
The black phone tells the story of the mysterious Grabber (Hawke), a serial killer who kidnaps children and keeps them captive in his basement. His latest victim, Finney (Thames) discovers that a disconnected phone on the wall is able to contact the spirits of the Grabber’s previous victims, who ultimately help him escape. What sets the Grabber apart from your standard villain, however, is his off-white mask which is made up of separate pieces that fit together and features horns, an odd toothy smile, as well as a deep, wrinkling mouth. eyebrows. Each encounter between Finney and the Grabber sees Hawke’s character wear the mask in a number of different variations.
In a recent interview with THR, Cargill discusses the origins of the Grabber’s mask and how integral it was to the overall character. The writer reveals that the idea for the mask actually stems from an initial discussion with Hill about changing the villain from that of the source material, in which he was a clown. The writer explains how Hill then shared an alternative idea inspired by magicians from the 30s and 40s. Regarding the interchangeable nature of the mask, Cargill reveals that it ultimately serves as a reflection of his personality, which the Grabber could then change depending on the part of his “ritualin which it was. Check out Cargill’s discussion below:
In the short story, the character is a clown, and after reading the first draft, Joe Hill came to us with a mea culpa hat in hand. He was like, “That’s a tough question, but when I wrote this story, it was 20 years later. [Stephen King’s] It was out. No one was thinking of clowns, and I was thinking of John Wayne Gacy. So there was no real comparison at the time, but now that [2017’s] It’s a big hit, people are going to think I’m aping my dad with another clown. So can we change that? And we were like, “Yeah, of course we can, but to what?” And that’s when Joe said, “I got this great idea from this whole ’30s and ’40s magic show act where the magicians dressed up as magicians half the time and then the other half they disguised themselves as the devil and doing other tricks like the devil. So I thought that would be really cool. And we were like, “Yeah, that’s rad. We like that. Let’s do this.” And that’s when Scott spun into the mask. […]
Yeah, and each mask is also the character it plays. It really is one thing. In the film, he is asked if he was the one who killed all the other boys, and he replies, “No, it was someone else.” Thus, each mask represents for him a different part of the ritual and a different aspect of his personality. It was something that Scott had imagined because he was like, “Well, we have to get him to move somehow, and you can’t really move behind a mask.” What if he had an interchangeable mask, and depending on the atmosphere of the ritual, he would change the bottom of the mask? So it turned into what is now a fascinating visual representation of this character.
Praise for Hawke’s performance as this terrifying villain has been a constant throughout The black phone reactions, with the film’s young actors also receiving considerable praise for their performances. Given the rich history that The black phone teases, the film’s incredibly warm reception has spawned various conversations about a sequel, with some hoping to see a prequel centered around the Grabber and his twisted motives. Derrickson recently teased the exciting possibility of a sequel to black phone, revealing that he would be willing to move forward with one as long as audiences respond well to this movie first.
The Grabber’s mask acted as the centerpiece of The black phone, given its spooky nature and instantly memorable look, it’s certainly worth learning about the inspirations behind the creation of this piece. Having played such a key role in Hawke’s overall character lore, it remains to be seen what the creative team behind The black phone has in mind to show its origins on the screen and in the universe. Perhaps its variations could even be expanded further, should Derrickson and Cargill decide to go ahead with it. The black phone 2.
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