Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Dark Meaning Behind Each Of The Grabber's Masks In The Black Phone

The following article contains minor spoilers for "The Black Phone."

Any worthwhile horror movie needs a terrifying monster at its center. This can be a demon from another realm or a person with some sick tendencies, but either way, it should instill fear in all who see it. "The Black Phone" understands this perfectly, so to make The Grabber all the more terrifying, the filmmaking crew game him a litany of masks to wear throughout the movie's runtime. 

It makes The Grabber come across as something not quite human. Whether he's wearing a mask with a disfigured mouth or horns, he looks like another being, making him all the scarier when he stalks children in the streets. He's a terrifying visage of trauma, and he's entirely unpredictable, as evidenced when director Scott Derrickson told TIME, "He really buries his moods behind the mask and, to me, there's almost some kind of multiple personality disorder going on there." That idea of multiple personalities existing within one body proved helpful when assigning The Grabber's masks. 

Each mask represents a different mood for The Grabber

The mask was a wholly unique idea for the film. "The Black Phone" is based on a short story of the same name, but in that title, the killer dresses up like a clown. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, writer C. Robert Cargill mentioned how they changed it to masks to avoid any parallels with the "It" movies. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it allowed each mask to represent a different side to The Grabber's personality. 

When asked if each mask represents a different side of The Grabber, Cargill responded, "Each mask is also the character that he's playing. That's really a thing. In the film, he's asked if he's the one that killed all the other boys, and he goes, 'No, that was someone else.' So each mask represents a different part of the ritual for him and a different aspect of his personality."

On top of that, making the masks represent what The Grabber was feeling at any given time allowed actor Ethan Hawke to express a mood, which Cargill admits is hard to do behind a mask. He went on to say, "[Derrickson] was like, 'Well, we've got to get him to emote in some way, and you can't really emote behind a mask. What if he has an interchangeable mask, and depending on the mood of the ritual, he would change the bottom of the mask?' So that turned into what is now a fascinating visual representation of this character." Now instead of looking like another horror movie villain, The Grabber is entirely his own entity with horror canon.