The Black Phone's Ethan Hawke on the power of horror to explore bigger themes

The Black Phone star Ethan Hawke says horror movies can be a 'trojan horse' for delivering important messages, while also being entertaining and commercially successful.

The Black Phone is in UK cinemas now.

Video transcript

CLARISSE LOUGHREY: I really appreciate the perspective that you've always brought when discussing the industry, and that tension between art and commerce, you know, especially this death of the mid-budget adult [? drama. ?] And I've always thought that horror, because there is and will always be an appetite for horror, is the one genre that's almost sort of escaped that pressure. I wondered what your thoughts [INAUDIBLE] they were.

ETHAN HAWKE: It's always been wildly commercial, like I was fascinated by "Get Out." That you could make a case to be made that that's the best movie on systemic racism that America has made. And it's in the envelope of just a fun scary movie.

If you said I'm making an important film about systemic racism, nobody would go. But if you're going to tell a scary story and it's going to be really funny and really terrifying, they'll go. And then you can, kind of, trojan horse your themes, so to speak.

"Black Phone" is really about a brother and a sister loving each other and taking care of each other in a world that doesn't seem to care about them. There's all these grown ups that are either actively malevolent or disengaged and they, this young man and young woman, take care of themselves and each other.

So you can really take something away from it, but you're not being talked down to. You're not being told a movie with a message and you're actually being entertained. And there's something about fear that is just an easy access point for storytelling.

CLARISSE LOUGHREY: Since doing "Moonlight," I wondered if you'd gained any insight into the whole machine of it all?

ETHAN HAWKE: What I realize is that you can talk about the way the world ought to be all as much as you want. But sometimes you have to engage with it and try to make what it is as good as possible. And I think that that's sometimes more challenging, is like I want to go where the audience is and try to give them something good, rather than demand they be somewhere that I want them to be.

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