‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ on technology, power, morality

‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ on technology, power, morality

If there is one thing horror filmmakers and enjoyers alike can collectively agree on, it’s that Stephen King rarely fails to deliver stories that challenge the human psyche. Sure enough, John Lee Hancock’s “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” is no exception.

Despite the film being marketed as an American teen horror drama, “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” identifies more with the coming-of-age category. It tells a story of revenge, power, and gives a glimpse toward the dangers of modern-day technology, most especially smartphones.

Even with the horror elements that accentuate the film’s Stephen King origin, viewers get the perfect combination of a chilling yet heartwarming story (if that’s even possible) through “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone.”

The story begins with Craig (Jaeden Martell), a young teenager starting high school in a small town in Maine (where almost every Stephen King story is set). It’s 2003, and Craig lives with his father two years after the untimely death of his mother.

After hearing Craig read from the Bible during a church service, a reclusive elderly billionaire named John Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) reaches out to him to offer him a job. The job? It’s to read a variety of novels to Mr. Harrigan three times a week in his massive mansion. Craig agrees without any hesitation and over time, he develops an unexpected bond with the enigmatic Harrigan.

When the iPhone was introduced on the market, Craig buys one for Mr. Harrigan with the money he received from a winning scratch-off lottery ticket that Mr. Harrigan usually gives him for Christmas.

Shortly after, Harrigan passes away. Out of grief for his old friend, Craig decides to leave Mr. Harrigan’s iPhone in his pocket at the funeral service. Craig soon finds out that he’s able to communicate with the deceased Mr. Harrigan through his phone, an action with dire consequences costing multiple lives later in the film.

‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ definitely feels different from the other Stephen King adaptations, in a sense that the tone and elements tend to focus more on Craig’s development rather than the “horror” aspect of the story.

However, it is undeniably painted with such heavy quandaries that lets the viewers pause for a good second to reflect on having the power of a thousand information with just a tap of a finger through smartphones.

Verdict. The film felt like a combination of Tsugumi Ohba’s “Death Note” and Netflix’s “Black Mirror,” a morality tale for both the protagonist, Craig, and viewers alike. It poses a question for viewers as to how far people are willing to right the injustices in society. It’s a story of a young man facing a moral quandary about what to do with an impossible power he obtained. S


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