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20 Movies And TV Series That Will Make You Want To Throw Your Phone In The Sea

A roundup just in time for spooky season, because there's nothing scarier than answering the phone...

With recent release The Black Phone only continuing to garner praise, it got me thinking — how many other movies or series invoke a sense of dread with just a simple call?

Let's run through a few to add to your list, because let's face it — answering the phone is a true terror at the best of times!

1. The Black Phone (2022): Movie

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So, of course The Black Phone makes the list.

It tells the tale of the Grabber, a masked sadist who is terrorizing a small American town by kidnapping and killing young boys. We land in the story when quiet Finney is taken, making him the sixth to be snatched. 

Perpetually bullied and meek, Finney doesn't fancy his chances of survival — until the phone in the basement he's locked in begins to ring, and the callers are the Grabber's previous victims. Hellbent on vengeance, the callers combine their knowledge of the villainous kidnapper with Finney's will to survive in an attempt to turn the tables on the Grabber once and for all.

IMDb rating: 7/10

2. Phone Booth (2002): Movie

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Philandering Stuart Shepherd is the guy you love to hate. After using a phone booth in Times Square to contact his mistress without his wife finding out, the leading lothario ends up caught in a cat-and-mouse game when a person calls that same phone booth and informs him that there's a sniper rifle trained on his head, and the only way to stay alive is to right his wrongs.

Of course, there's twists and turns along the way, and Phone Booth is taut with a tension that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way. 

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

3. The Call (2020): Movie

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A truly unique thriller, this Korean movie follows Kim Seo-yeon, who finds an old cordless phone at her mother's house which she begins to receive mysterious phone calls through. The caller says she's being tortured by her mother, and after investigating, Seo-yeon realizes that the woman is somehow living in the same house as her — but back in 1999. Together, the two make a plan to change the past to bring Seo-yeon's father back to life, but all is not quite as it seems...

Filled with a sense of growing dread, this is a real one-of-a-kind movie.

Make sure you watch the mid-credits scene at the end!

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

4. Searching (2018): Movie

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Told through computer and smartphone screens, Searching follows David Kim as he tries to find his missing 16-year-old daughter Margot after three missed calls from her. 

Aided by a police detective, David begins to investigate his daughter's life and unravels a dark chain of events via Margot's social media and text conversations...

IMDb rating: 7.6/10

5. Scream (1996): Movie (first of a movie series)

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"Do you like scary movies?" Watch Scream if you do! Like this iconic line, Scream has stayed in popular culture since its release back in 1996, and for good reason.

Set in the quiet town of Woodsboro, we're taken on a terrifying journey when teenage protagonist Sidney Prescott is terrorized by a killer a year after her mother's murder. 

Directed by A Nightmare on Elm Street's Wes Craven, Scream is very meta take on the popular slasher movies Craven popularized in the '80s, and totally revitalized the genre a decade later. A perfect combination of horror tropes and subversions, it's no wonder Scream has stood the test of time.

IMDb rating: 7.4/10

6. Darwin's Game (2020): Series

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We've all had a phase of getting addicted to Candy Crush, so it's not hard to see how you can spend your life immersed in a phone game. But what if that happens literally?

For student Sudou Kaname, that's exactly what happens. When he accepts an invite to a new mobile game, he is drawn into a virtual world with very real consequences — oh, and there's no way to quit.

A relentless game of cat and mouse, Darwin's Game isn't just about survival of the fittest — it's a game of intellect, and a lot falls down to the unique Sigil (or ability) each player is randomly assigned.

IMDb rating: 7.2/10

7. Buried (2010): Movie

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Definitely give this one a swerve if you're claustrophobic, because you'll be spending the whole film locked in a box with Ryan Reynolds. (Hey, that doesn't sound so bad...)

Paul Conroy, an American civilian working in Iraq, awakes to find himself trapped in a wooden coffin with only a random collection of items to aid him. One of the items he has is a Blackberry phone (just to bring home that the film is set in 2006), which he uses to attempt to get help to no avail. He then receives a call from a kidnapper demanding a ransom for his release, but is told by the State Department that the government won't negotiate with terrorists.

With the clock ticking and his oxygen dwindling, Paul must race against time and the unexpected obstacles thrown at him in a desperate attempt to stay alive. Each phone call is a tense affair charged with hope and desperation - it could be his rescuer, or perhaps it's a brand new threat to contend with. I barely breathed for the whole time this film was on!

IMDb rating: 7/10

8. Alice in Borderland (2020): Series

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Bored friends Arisu, Karube, and Chota are unwittingly transported to a parallel dimension where they must play dangerous games of life and death in order to earn days on their visas, stored on their smartphones. If they don't play and their visas run out, they are executed via lasers shot from the sky. 

Stuck in a brand new world with dangerous parameters, video-game obsessed Arisu must use his problem-solving brain to complete each level in a world where "game over" really does spell the end.

IMDb rating: 7.6/10

9. One of Us Is Lying (2021): Series

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When Simon, the inventor of school gossip app About That, dies suddenly in detention, the finger points at the four other students in the room with him. Loosely forming the stereotypical jock, nerd, stoner, and popular girl, the four all have motive to kill Simon on paper, but vehemently swear they did not.

Plagued by notifications which threaten to reveal their darkest secrets on the About That app, which the whole school has access to, the unlikely foursome work together to work out who really killed Simon and to keep their secrets locked away.

This series will have you twitching every time you get an app notification!

IMDb rating: 6.8/10

10. Pretty Little Liars (2010): Series

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In a similar vein to One of Us Is Lying, an estranged circle of friends is plagued by text messages from a mysterious sender known only as A after the leader of their group goes missing.

With constant threats to expose their darkest secrets, the friends live on tenterhooks and must work together to find out who A really is to end the mental torture once and for all.

IMDb rating: 7.4/10

11. Ringu (1998): Movie

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This Japanese horror is notorious for the terror it invokes in viewers! It tells the story of a supposed urban legend, which says a video tape curses its viewers to die seven days after watching it and receiving a mysterious phone call.

Journalist Reiko Asakawa decides to investigate the legend after learning her niece and the three friends that died at the same time as her had all seen the tape and heard the call. After watching an unmarked video tape in the resort where her niece and friends were staying and then promptly receiving a call, Reiko becomes convinced she is cursed and is determined to stop the same grisly fate being her demise, too.

IMDb rating: 7.2/10

12. The Guilty (2021): Movie

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Joe Baylor is a demoted police officer assigned to the night shift at a 911 call center whilst awaiting a court hearing for an incident that occurred while he was on duty. Frustrated and angry, he's not exactly putting his back in to the work — until a woman named Emily calls and says she's been abducted. 

From then on, Joe is on a mission to save Emily before it's too late — but everything isn't quite as it seems.

IMDb rating: 6.3/10

13. Locke (2013): Movie

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Locke is set entirely inside the car of the titular character, as he begins a drive home from work only to set into action a chain of events via a series of phone calls he receives. Without giving too much away, Locke is forced to make big decisions, hear distressing news he is too far away to help with, get hassled by his boss, and more.

Overall, Locke is a tense film, and to be frank, it will probably have you putting your phone on do not disturb and avoiding calls at all costs!

IMDb rating: 7.1/10

14. Sorry, Wrong Number (1948): Movie

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Throwing it way back to 1948, we have Sorry, Wrong Number. 

Wealthy Leona Stevenson is bedridden and alone in her apartment, so she attempts to call her husband, Henry. Through a crossed telephone connection, Leona accidentally overhears a plot between two men who are planning to murder someone that night. 

Unable to leave her home or reach her husband, and with her concerns dismissed by the police, Leona attempts to unravel the murder mystery before it comes to fruition.

(I've added a clip instead of a trailer, as the trailers available almost give away the ending!)

IMDb rating: 7.3/10

15. Dial M for Murder (1954): Movie

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If you're in the mood for another vintage scare, Dial M for Murder could be an option for you. 

When Tony, a retired tennis player, learns that his wealthy socialite wife Margot has been having an affair, he decides to have her killed and cash in on her fortune. The idea is that wife Margot will answer a phone call at a specific time, and the hired killer will sneak up and strangle her from behind. 

However, the murder plot doesn't quite go to plan, and we're kept on our toes with the twists and turns cunning husband Tony creates to take Margot down.

IMDb rating: 8.2/10

16. Voice of a Murderer (2007): Movie

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Based on a true story, Voice of a Murderer is a Korean film which tells the story of news anchor Han Kyung-bae whose 9-year-old son disappears. Shortly afterwards, Kyung-bae receives a phone call demanding $100,000 as ransom in exchange for his son's survival. 

Working with the police and answering a series of calls from the kidnapper, it soon becomes clear that the antagonist is one step ahead at all times, and getting his son back might not be as straightforward as Kyung-bae had anticipated.

IMDb rating: 6.8/10

17. The Call (2013): Movie

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Jordan Turner is an LAPD 911 operator struggling with the weight of a mistake she made that led to the death of someone who called her for aid. She is taking time off field calls, but is forced into helping a rookie operator grappling with a call from a teenage girl who has been abducted.

Jordan stays on the phone with Casey, constantly trying to find ways to narrow down her location (as Casey is on a burner phone), keep her safe, and not let the past mistakes impact her in a new but familiar situation.

IMDb rating: 6.7/10

18. Silent Number (1993): Short film

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This short film by student director Jamie Blanks is reminiscent of Wes Craven's Scream, and utilizes horror tropes well — I mean, the main character is a babysitter receiving distressing calls!

Stuck in an electrical storm, the protagonist receives a series of calls from a young boy who claims to have been locked up somewhere by his abusive father. He is desperate for help, and the babysitter calls the police to trace his whereabouts. Of course, as this is a suspense/thriller film, it's not quite that cut-and-dry, and the ending will send a chill down your spine!

You can watch the full short film in the video above!

IMDb rating: 6.1/10

19. Memento (2000): Movie

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This film plays out backwards, and as usual for Christopher Nolan, is full of twists and will constantly have you trying to guess the chain of events that led up to the first one seen.

Memento follows Leonard Shelby, a former insurance investigator who is on a revenge mission after the murder of his wife. However, he has anterograde amnesia, meaning he can remember everything up to his wife's death but cannot form any new memories. He forgets the start of the conversation if it's longer than a few minutes, can't remember new friends, and forgets that his wife is dead.

Throughout the film, Leonard speaks to an unknown caller, telling them updates in his investigation and the cautionary tale of a man with the same condition who inspired Leonard's particular way of ensuring he keeps track of new information. But when you can't remember who to trust, how can you tell the person on the other end of the phone is a friend? 

IMDb rating: 8.4/10

20. Bonus: a spooky short story reading

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A little bonus for you guys. In this episode of YouTube series "Are You Scared?" presenter Ryan tries to spook his friend Shane with a spooky story about a 911 call operator attempting to help a young girl with a home invader. 

As you might guess from the title "Are You Scared?" this isn't just your standard home invader...

What would you add to this list as a chilling movie or series involving phones? Let me know in the comments!