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The Scariest Thing About 'Mr Harrigan's Phone'

What an exciting and scary time to be alive. It is Donald Sutherland's character Mr. Harrigan in the mystery horror thriller that has some fascinating and haunting "premonitions" about the mess we find ourselves in. An enigmatic billionaire, Harrigan employs a boy to read to him, in turn giving the young man some valuable life lessons by way of Socratic questioning in response to reading each novel. At one point, during the reading of 'Dombey and Son' by Charles Dickens, he quips "Dombey was trying to help his son understand that the true value of money is not measured in worth. The true value of money is measured in power.".

Scariest Thing About Mr Harrigan's Phone

Having no television and moving to a place where the view is nice but not spectacular enough to attract people, the recluse's lifestyle tends towards being off-the-grid in a place where no one asks things of him. Saying very little about how he made his billions, "The Pirate King" seems intent on establishing some form of legacy. A reluctant technophobe, his influence on the youngster is a two-way street when a winning scratch card results in the return gift of an iPhone to the elderly gentleman.

Set at the dawn of the mobile phone revolution, when the Internet's true power was only beginning to be felt by society, his device sparks a number of ideas for the decidedly old school retired billionaire. Mr Harrigan's Phone is based on one of Stephen King's short stories from the novel 'If It Bleeds'. Written by King after the fact and released in 2020, it's still spine-tingling to hear how the Internet and free access to news has had a major influence on journalism and by extension everyone who is engaged by the media.

Full movie quote from the dialogue between Craig and Harrigan from Mr Harrigan's Phone below.

"Harrigan: There's something troubling me. Maybe you can explain it. I've been reading articles on this phone for a month now and they've all been free.

Craig: Yeah...

Harrigan: No, I'm reading something for free that people pay good money for.

Craig: That's great, right?

Harrigan: No, it's not. Giving information away runs counter to everything I understand about successful business practices. The World Wide Web is like a broken water main, except instead of water it's spewing information every which way. I don't understand. Is it a come on, or what? I'm asking Craig.

Craig: Kind of like the Fryeburg fair, where the first game is usually free?"

Harrigan: Gee... and we're still on the first game. Fryeburg Fair. And there are no advertisements on these sites. Ads are the life blood of newspapers. How will they survive? I don't think this is a come on. I think it's a gateway drug. I've already noticed that my Google search responses are on the side of financial information. It knows what I want and what's going to happen when they close the water main? No more freebies. Oh, and false information becomes common and accepted as true... and what happens when they start using this to spread more nonsense than is already out there. Newspapers, journals, politicians, all of us need to be very frightened by this gizmo!

Now struggling to curtail the untold damage by deceptive social media campaigns, it's the era of fake news that's become a focal point. In what seems like a bygone age, people had more faith in news agencies, who seemed more accountable. Whether the current propensity to shine a spotlight into the darkest places has revealed much of the rot or things have progressively worsened, the current integrity of news reporting has generally become ragged. Malleable, synthesized or thumb-sucked, the only thing that seems to matter now is reputation. Gone are the days where you could safely assume what you're reading is at least partially true and based on an on-the-ground point-of-view.

While Mr. Harrigan's Phone unfurls a slow-burning mystery horror thriller about a man who is able to communicate from beyond the grave, it's this one moment in the film that is most haunting. Able to affect the lives of those in this small town way after he's gone, perhaps it's Harrigan role as a harbinger that makes this horror so chilling. Speaking to the principle of planting trees for our children to enjoy the shade when we're gone, the converse idea has some equally disturbing consequences as well.

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