5 spine-tingling Joe Hill stories that need to be adapted after The Black Phone

Ethan Hawke is revelatory and unrecognisable in the creepy new horror movie The Black Phone. Released in Cineworld cinemas on 24 June, the movie casts Hawke against type as the sinister child kidnapper-killer The Grabber.

However, The Grabber's latest victim manages to turn the tables with the aid of the titular Black Phone, a device that allows the boy to communicate with the psycho's previous victims. Director Scott Derrickson, who collaborated with Hawke on 2012's Sinister, orchestrates a diabolical build-up of suspense in line with some strong performances. (Discover the Cineworld preview reactions to The Black Phone.)

Did you know that The Black Phone is adapted from a short story by Joe Hill? Furthermore, did you know that Hill is the son of revered author Stephen King? Hill clearly takes after his old man in terms of devising all manner of memorably scary scenarios, and the movie adaptation of The Black Phone effectively preserves his twisted imagination.

The prolific Hill has conjured all manner of wonderfully weird scenarios in his novels and short stories. Here are five we want to see adapted for the big screen in the wake of The Black Phone's release.


1. Aloft

Hill's trippy and surreal short story comes from his collection, Strange Weather. The work is split into four, and at least two are centred around meteorological phenomena. Aloft is one of the most brazenly bizarre, involving a skydiver named Aubrey whose plane bails, forcing him to evacuate in haste.

When Aubrey lands on an apparently solid, cloud-like structure, he finds himself tested both physically and mentally. The visual possibilities of the story are surely ripe for the big screen, and it would allow an actor to chew the scenery without having to cede screentime to their co-stars. Echoes of John Cusack in King adaptation 1408, maybe?

2. Heart-Shaped Box

Another four-section work from Hill and each of those sections are named after a classic rock song. This rock and roll spirit is mixed with a typically unnerving story of an ageing musician who comes into possession of an old coat that is contained within... the heart-shaped box of the title.

When said musician Judas finds himself pursued by the garment's malevolent former owner (hint: they're not alive), an escalating tale of supernatural paranoia starts to unfold. Imagine M.R. James via way of AC/DC and you get the just. Maybe Jeff Bridges could star and bring that grizzled Crazy Heart spirit to proceedings?

3. The Fireman

Here's a story that bears topical, even uncomfortable resonance, for our times. Hill's post-apocalyptic saga focuses on a deadly fungal spore that has infected most of the planet's population. The fungus invites a condition known as 'Dragonscale', which eventually causes the host to spontaneously combust.

Only one man, the eponymous Fireman, appears to be able to resist and even extinguish the combustible symptoms. We're imagining somebody like David Cronenberg bringing his penchant for twisted body horror to the film adaptation.

4. Throttle

Stephen King wrote this gripping novella with Hill, and it evokes Steven Spielberg's classic thriller Duel (itself adapted from a Richard Matheson short story). The twist this time is that a Hell's Angels motorcycle club known as The Tribe are pursued by a vengeful oil tanker, transfiguring Matheson's story of isolated terror into something more populous and outrageous. 

Fast vehicles, explosions and relentless mania – is this one for Michael Bay, we reckon?

5. 20th Century Ghost

Here's a story that ripples with poignancy and melancholy. It revolves around a classic movie theater that is haunted by a young woman who died during a screening of The Wizard of Oz. Witness to the haunting is ruminative theatre owner Alec Sheldon who is compelled to reflect on his own mortality.

This meta-commentary on cinema, combined with ghostly shenanigans and ruminations on old age, would appear to make this an ideal fit for Guillermo del Toro, n'est pas?


Are you ready to take the call? Then click here to book your tickets for The Black Phone, materialising in Cineworld cinemas on 24 June.