Mr. Harrigan’s Phone review: Barely any scares

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone on Netflix is a horror flick based on the Stephen King novella of the same name. It focuses on a teenaged boy named Craig (Jaeden Martell) who befriends the titular billionaire. After Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) passes away, Craig discovers that he can communicate with his old friend from beyond the grave using a phone.


We are introduced to Craig in 2003. He has just lost his mom and lives with his dad in the small town of Harlow, Maine. A reclusive billionaire named Mr. Harrigan hires the boy to come to his house thrice a week and read to him for $5 an hour.

Five years pass and this arrangement continues. Craig becomes really good friends with the old man and they share tidbits about life. Craig starts high school and gets a brand new iPhone from his dad.

He also wins $3000 from a lottery and buys Mr. Harrigan a phone as well. Unfortunately, the old man soon passes away from heart disease and Craig puts his phone in the coffin before he is buried.

In a crazy twist of events, the boy discovers that Mr. Harrigan can hear him from beyond the grave when he calls his phone. This leads to further complications when people that Craig talks about on the phone start dying.


Jaeden Martell plays Craig quite well. Coming from projects like the two ‘IT’ films, he is no stranger to the horror genre and it shows in his performance. His voiceover throughout is impactful and so is his ever evolving character personality.

His transition from a protected teenager to an introspective college student dealing with trauma, bullying, hate and fear is commendable. He is shown to be perpetually miserable during the entire film which sometimes feels over the top. A light hearted side to him would have been a welcome addition.

Donald Sutherland is the perfect Mr. Harrigan. Despite portraying a fading and frail old man, he brings the perfect amount of mystery and vulnerability to the character.

Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Joe Tippett, Cyrus Arnold and other supporting cast members are worthy additions to the plot.


The chemistry between Martell and Sutherland is one of the stronger points of Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. Their conversations are profound and most of them can be easily used as real-life lessons

The film also presents a beautiful coming-of-age tale about hardships of life and commentates on the change in the human race since the invention of the smart phone and the advancement of technology.

This makes it a very character driven film which isn’t highly focused on the horror.


Speaking of horror, this film doesn’t have any. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone has subtle scary moments but never delivers as a Stephen King adaptation. The premise is interesting but doesn’t leave an impact.

The film feels like a drama more than a horror flick. The characters have a lot to say about aspects of existence but that causes the plot to feel excessively preachy at times.

Also, the pacing is quite shaky. The film takes a long time to get going and even then, doesn’t deliver a conclusion worthy of the genre. It almost confuses itself in terms of which genre it wants to belong to.


Mr. Harrigan’s Phone will disappoint you if you expect a scary Stephen King adaptation. However, it is a unique twist on the genre which may float your boat if philosophical narratives are your thing.

Mr. Harrigan's Phone review: Barely any scares
Mr. Harrigan's Phone review: Barely any scares 1

Director: John Lee Hancock

Date Created: 2022-10-05 22:43

Editor's Rating:

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