‘Mister. Harrigan’s Phone’ on technology, power, ethics

If there’s one thing that horror filmmakers and connoisseurs alike can 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.

Although the film is marketed as an American teen horror drama, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” identifies more with the coming-of-age category. It tells a tale of revenge, power and an insight into the dangers of modern technology, especially smartphones.

Even with the horror elements emphasizing the film’s Stephen King origins, “Mr. Harrigan’s phone.”

The story begins with Craig (Jaeden Martell), a young teenager attending high school in a small town in Maine (where almost all Stephen King stories are set). The year is 2003 and Craig is living with his father two years after the untimely death of his mother.

After Craig reads the Bible during a church service, a reclusive elderly billionaire named John Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) approaches him with an offer of a job. The work? It involves reading a variety of novels to Mr. Harrigan three times a week in his enormous mansion. Craig agrees without hesitation and over time develops an unexpected bond with the enigmatic Harrigan.

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

Shortly thereafter, Harrigan dies. Mourning the loss of his old friend, Craig decides to leave Mr. Harrigan’s iPhone in his pocket at the funeral. Craig soon discovers that he can communicate with the late Mr. Harrigan through his phone, an action with dire consequences that later in the film takes several lives.

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

However, it’s undeniably painted with such severe dilemmas that viewers can pause for a good second and reflect that they have the power of a thousand pieces of information at their fingertips via smartphones.

Verdict. The film felt like a combination of Tsugumi Ohba’s Death Note and Netflix’s Black Mirror, a moral tale for both protagonist Craig and viewers. It asks viewers to what extent people are willing to right the injustices in society. It is the story of a young man who faces a moral dilemma about what to do with an impossible power he has acquired. S

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