Mr. Harrigan’s Phone on Netflix is a horror film based on the eponymous Stephen King novella. It follows a teenage boy named Craig (Jaeden Martell) who befriends the titular lonely billionaire. After Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) passes away, Craig realises that he can contact his old friend from beyond the grave using a phone.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
The film opens in 2003 with a voiceover by Craig which reveals that he used to live in Harlow, Maine, a village-like small town. He explains the layout of Harlow and mentions a slightly larger neighbouring town called Gates Falls.
Little Craig lives with his dad as his mom has passed away. One day, elderly billionaire John Harrigan, who Craig often sees in church, approaches his father and asks to hire Craig to read books to him.
Thus, an arrangement begins where Craig visits Mr. Harrigan three times a week and gets paid $5 an hour. One day, the boy tries to open a closet in the reading room and Mr. Harrigan stops him, saying that it houses terrible secrets.
Craig does research on his employer at a cyber cafe and finds that he was not liked much, never married or had children and liked being alone. The reading days continue and the relationship between the kid and the old man blooms.
Mr. Harrigan sends Craig a lotto ticket four times a year as tradition but he never wins anything. Five years pass and Craig, now a teenager, still continues to visit the old man thrice a week.
Eventually, he starts high school in Gates Falls as Harlow doesn’t have one and immediately gets on the bad side of a bully named Kenny Yankovich. However, he also finds a great mentor in his science teacher Ms. Hart.
Meanwhile, during his time with Mr. Harrigan, Craig inquires about dealing with bullies and the old man responds that they should be dealt with harshly.
A senior explains the importance of having a smartphone in school as it defines social status. Craig asks for one from his dad and gets the first edition of the Apple iPhone for Christmas. Incidentally, he also wins $3000 from the lotto ticket Mr. Harrigan sends him.
Craig puts most of the money in his college trust fund and uses the rest to buy Mr. Harrigan an iPhone as well. The old billionaire refuses to accept it initially but is fascinated by it when Craig introduces him to real-time stock market updates and free online articles.
Craig saves Mr. Harrigan’s number as Pirate King (something he was called by the newspapers during his heyday) and puts his favourite song — “Stand By Your Man” by Tammy Wynette — as the ringtone.
The old man loves his new gizmo but shares his apprehensions about spreading free information with Craig. He correctly predicts the onset of fake news, negative impacts of the internet, scams, spam and more.
During one of their sessions, Craig notices an oxygen cylinder and inquires about it. Mr. Harrigans says that he uses it at night to sleep.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone ending explained in detail:
How does Mr. Harrigan die?
Craig comes to the mansion for a regular session and finds Mr. Harrigan unconscious in his chair, holding his phone. When he inspects further he realises that the old man is dead.
He calls his father and an ambulance arrives. Craig reads to Mr. Harrigan one last time. During the ceremony in church, Craig puts Mr. Harrigan’s phone inside his coffin and he is buried with it.
After the funeral, Craig finds out that the old man left him $800,000 in trust for his college education and future job prospects. The letter also mentions that he will miss their afternoons together as well.
Craig is shocked to read this as he had texted Mr. Harrigan the same thing the day he died. That night he calls the phone and thanks the old man for the money as the call goes to voicemail.
The next morning Craig receives a cryptic text from Mr. Harrigan’s phone and runs to his dad. He thinks that the billionaire is still alive and they need to get him out.
His dad calms him down and brushes it off as a prank. He reveals to Craig that an autopsy was performed and it was confirmed that Mr. Harrigan died of a heart disease.
Craig visits the mansion and meets with housekeeper. The elderly lady welcomes him and they talk about the late Mr. Harrigan. Craig wonders if the billionaire was a good man and the housekeeper confirms that he was but you didn’t want to be on his bad side.
She mentions an old gardener Dusty Bilodeau who was caught stealing and Harrigan ruined his life.
What happens to Kenny Yankovich?
Kenny is expelled for selling marijuana on school campus and believes it was Craig who told on him. Eventually, things move on and Craig goes to the Gates Falls High Winter Dance after the first semester with a beautiful girl named Regina.
However, Kenny attacks Craig during the event and beats him up. Ms. Hart treats his wounds as Craig thanks her for being a great teacher and making high school bearable.
That night he calls Mr. Harrigan’s phone again and opens up about the incident. Shockingly, the next morning Craig discovers that Kenny has died. Craig feels guilty about the incident but Ms. Hart comforts him.
Craig tries to know more about Mr. Harrigan and goes to check on Dusty Bilodeau. He finds that after he was fired for stealing, Dusty never found another job and committed suicide.
That night a scared Craig calls Mr. Harrigan and asks him to knock on his wall thrice if he killed Kenny. Just then, he receives a call from Pirate King and another cryptic text.
How does Craig move on?
Craig finds out that Kenny fell from his window while trying to sneak out and he was drunk. Having had enough of the spooky phone, Craig upgrades it to a newer iPhone 4S, chucks the old one in a box and hides it in his cupboard.
Things settle down after that and Craig finishes high school. He gets a writing scholarship at Emerson College in Boston which is two hours away and moves out.
He focuses on studies and enjoys his new life until a phone call from his dad brings everything crashing down. It is revealed that Ms. Hart has died in a car crash which was caused a man named Deane Whitmore.
Whitmore was drunk at the time and his prison sentence is re moved as he agrees to spend six months in rehab.
How does Craig react?
Furious that the accused got away, Craig finds his old phone and calls Mr. Harrigan, asking him to kill Whitmore. However, he starts feeling guilty immediately after and is shocked when the man is actually found dead.
Craig visits the rehab centre and pays $200 to a resident to get details on Whitmore death. He finds that the drunk choked himself in the shower by shoving half a bar of Booth Bay soap into his throat.
This is the same soap that Ms. Hart had once mentioned using when Craig said she smelled nice. Furthermore, Whitmore’s suicide note has lyrics from Mr. Harrigan’s favourite song.
How does the ordeal end?
Distraught, Craig realises that he has killed two people using the phone. He visits the mansion and opens the closet that Mr. Harrigan had stopped him from opening.
It has pictures and memories from the old man’s past and Craig realises that the reason he was chosen to read for him was that Mr. Harrigan’s life mimicked his own.
His mother too died when he was a boy and he could relate to the misery. Craig visits the old man’s grave one last time and also finally visits his mother’s grave, breaking down in front of it.
He then runs towards a nearby lake and throws his old phone into the water. He almost gets rid of the new one as well but decides against it, stating that humans are married to life via their phones and it is probably a bad marriage.
Before the screen cuts to black, Craig confesses that when he dies, he wants to be buried with empty pockets.