Stephen King has been considered in some quarters one of our greatest genre writers. He is also the only writer to have the most adaptations of his books to Film and television. You don’t have to be rocket scientist to not all stories have adapted well, or even should been adapted. The 2020 novella Mr Harrigan’s Phone is the latest book finding itself on Netflix. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for what is a defunct frustrating film.
When Craig, a young boy living in a small town (Jaeden Martell) befriends Mr. Harrigan, an older, reclusive billionaire (Donald Sutherland), the two begin to form an unlikely bond over their love of books and reading. But when Mr. Harrigan sadly passes away, Craig discovers that not everything is dead and gone and strangely finds himself able to communicate with his friend from the grave through the iPhone in this supernatural coming-of-age story that shows that certain connections are never lost.
Before I watched this, the red flags where already flying. As much I love Netflix, when it comes to their Original films and shows very few have critically with positivity. This film reminds us not every Stephen King story large and small worthy to be adapted. To be honest this story is dull which is a shame as the acting especially Martell and Sutherland are good. The pair deserve better, both transcend above the generational constraints and their friendship feels genuine.
Like Alan Hansen during his time on Match of The Day, Mr Harrigan’s Phone is a film of two halves. The first half is all about Craig growing up, a coming of age tale. Making some steps in life he must take himself like getting a job, going to college, even getting a girlfriend. Friendship also plays an important part when he bonds with Mr. Harrigan through his love for books. Learning a few life lessons especially the value of money. When Mr Harrigan sadly dies, the film moves into supernatural territory.
If you are expecting jump scares you will be severely disappointed. You could argue is there really any horror elements in the film at all? When Craig gets text messages from Mr Harrigan’s mobile is he contacting the dead or just been hacked? Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) and Jason Blum (Blumhouse) are onboard as producers which leaves you wondering what happened to the horror elements?
Mr Harrigan’s Phone maybe a film that warns us about the reliance on technology. It’s also about friendships and true lessons in life that take centre stage in a bloated, dull film that might be unforgivable to some Stephen King fans.
Drama, Horror | USA, 2022 | 12 | 5th October 2022 | Netflix | Dir. John Lee Hancock | Jaeden Martell, Donald Sutherland, Joe Tippett, Colin O’Brien, Cyrus Arnold, Thalia Toro