Directed by John Lee Hancock, Netflix’s horror film, “Mr. Harrigans’ Phone,” is adapted from Stephen King’s famous short story of the same title. The narrative centers on a teenager named Craig and his warm connection with Mr. Harrigan. Even after Harrigan’s death, Craig used to keep contacting him in times of need. Ultimately, Craig is compelled to throw away the phone due to a sudden turn of events that starts to take a toll on his mental health. So, let’s see what influenced his decision to get rid of Harrigan’s phone and what complex intricacies lie beneath the skin of these prominent characters.
Craig: Why Did Craig Throw Away Mr. Harrigans’ Phone?
This story begins in Harlow, a small town in Maine, which almost qualifies to be called a village. Craig (played by Jaeden Martell), a resident of this town, was a young boy who grew up in Harlow and attended elementary school there. But later, he got the opportunity to study at Gate Falls High. When Craig was a little child, his mother passed away, leaving his father to raise him. Despite this, his father raised his son in a very good manner. Craig had always been an excellent reader. He was a quiet and composed person. He met Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland) in a church where the Reverend asked him to read Second Samuel Chapter 1, verses 19 and 20. Harrigan liked Craig’s reading style and offered him a job in which he only had to read stories to him. Although Craig initially was suspicious, it later transformed into respect and love.
When Craig first stepped into Harrigan’s house, his servants looked at him strangely, which is normal for people in a small town. But Craig, ignoring everything, concentrated only on the task assigned to him. He recited famous literary works like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D.H. Lawrence, “Dombey and Son” by Charles Dickens, and many others flawlessly. Craig’s reading style was strange; as a young child, he did not understand this adult literature, but he casually read it without stumbling, which was intriguing to Harrigan. However, Craig’s father was skeptical about this, like the other people in town. Even when Craig looked him up online, he found nothing but bad things about the elderly gentleman.
According to some articles found on the internet, whatever Harrigan touched perished. A significant number of his workers killed themselves after leaving his company. Still, Craig chose to see his brighter side. He made an effort to justify his loneliness. Craig gradually became addicted to his company. He found a room in Harrigan’s mansion. However, Harrigan forbade him to open it as it contained some terrible mysteries.
Meanwhile, Craig attended Gate Falls High School, where his friends were U-Boat, Margie, and Billy. Seeing the popular kids at school using iPhones, he asked his father for a cell phone, but he did not have any expectations that his father would buy it for him. In the meantime, Harrigan paid him money for reading stories to him. He even occasionally sent cards, including Red Devil’s Lottery tickets. One day during Christmas, Craig won $3000 from the ticket that Harrigan sent him. However, Craig’s luck was so good that his father bought him an iPhone at the same time. Since it was late 2007, it might have been the earliest possible model of the iPhone. He then bought an iPhone as a gift for Harrigan.
Despite Harrigan’s notorious reputation in the eyes of society, to Craig, he was everything. So, even after he entered high school and made friends or girlfriends, he chose to spend time with Mr. Harrigan rather than anyone else. The more time Craig spent with Harrigan, the more he began to study him. He knew Harrigan was a gadget-averse man, so he expected rejection even after buying him an iPhone. But when he taught Harrigan to check the stock market app and current articles for free on this small smartphone, he was attracted to it. Craig knew that if he hit the right spot, Harrigan would turn from gadget-averse to gadget-oriented. Craig taught him to put in a voicemail and set his favorite song, “Stand By Your Man,” as a ringtone. That’s exactly what happened.
Harrigan died before he could make any more discoveries on the phone. Having an undying love and respect for Harrigan, he sent a message on his iPhone saying that he would miss their afternoons. In fact, at Harrigan’s funeral, before his body was buried, Craig left the phone in his pocket. Although this is only an instance of Craig’s respect and love towards him, what happened next makes his brain spin. Craig received a letter of will from Harrigan in which he gave him $800,000 of his property. But the letter concluded that Harrigan would miss their afternoon too. This line shocked Craig. He called Harrigan later that night, and he only heard the voicemail that Harrigan had left in front of him.
The following morning, when Craig awoke, he discovered a message from Harrigan’s phone, which caused him great concern. Craig was almost ready to abandon the phone, but in the process, something even stranger happened to him. When Kenny Yanko, an expelled and violent bully from the school, assaulted Craig, he called on Harrigan again. He did not actually let anyone at school know that he was hurt by Yanko because he thought that if he complained about him, he would face a legal problem. He only vented his pain to the person he trusted, and the next morning, Craig came to know that Yanko had died in an accident. Craig became introverted, believing that he might be behind Yanko’s death. In no way could he relieve his guilt. Slowly, the wheel of time began to change. Craig left high school and went to the city to study journalism. He ditched the old iPhone and bought a new phone from which Harrigan’s spirit could not be contacted. Craig at last exhaled a sigh of relief, but only briefly. He received a call from his father the very next day, informing him that Ms. Hart, who was his favorite teacher and might be his love interest, had died in a car accident along with her husband.
Dean Whitmore, a Massachusetts-based rich alcoholic brat, caused a road accident that led to the death of Ms. Hart. However, Dean was not given a harsh penalty for this. Craig believed that Harrigan’s ghost gave him a strange sense of power. He went back home, got the old iPhone, and called Harrigan. He was unwillingly forced to say that he wanted Dean to be dead. Finally, his request was granted within a short period of time. But his internal struggle hasn’t been settled. He even gained clarity when he discovered that the line from “Stand by Your Man” was in Dean’s suicide letter.
Craig visited Harrigan’s house for the very last time. He finally got to visit his secret room, which was forbidden to enter. Since there was nobody to supervise, he opened the room, and it turned out not to be that horrible. He witnessed Harrigan’s childhood pictures. He learned that Harrigan had also lost his mother at a very young age. He was more like Craig, and that was the reason why Harrigan chose Craig to read him stories. Harrigan used to see his replica in Craig, and that’s why he could not even leave him, even after his death.
To finally get rid of Mr. Harrigan or to put him to rest, Craig threw Mr. Harrigan’s phone into the deep water of the lake at Harlow to get rid of all these dilemmas. The film began with an Oscar Wilde quote, as spoken by Craig, that suggested the entire conflict of the film. The line said that when the gods wanted to punish mortal human beings, they would not do so directly but just answer their prayers. It is an extension of the thought that explains that a man brings about his own doom through his dreams, desires, ambitions, and demands. For Craig, seeking revenge was not something he had in mind. He may not have killed those people with his own hands, but at the back of his mind, he wanted them dead. It was probably a desire that came out in the heat of the moment. He wanted to share these vengeful thoughts with someone, and so he told the deceased Mr. Harrigan about it. The ghost or the supernatural being, acting as Craig’s protector, probably believed that it was Craig’s desire to punish those men, and hence he helped his friend in “dispatching those enemies hastily.” Finally, Craig felt guilty for the deaths of so many people (innocent or not), because of which his mental health started deteriorating. When Craig finally understood that revenge is never an answer to anything in this world and it would only traumatize him further in life, he decided to get rid of the instrument of “revenge” that was the root cause of the misery in his life.
Mr. Harrigan: Was He Cursed? Or Was He A Deliberate Murderer?
John Harrigan was a billionaire businessman who lived in Maine. He had an equal interest in the stock market as well as in literature. He found Craig’s reading manner fascinating at the neighborhood church and offered him a job to read him books. Harrigan led a mysterious life. He didn’t interact with people very much, so the rest of society had a different perception of him. However, he had a poor track record. Presumably, he was just cursed, or he made these decisions consciously to push his enemies out of his path. Even when he talked to Craig, he asked him to do the same. Mrs. Grogan told Craig about Dusty, the former gardener, who left the job after getting caught stealing, and nobody knew what actually happened to him. Though it looked like he did kill himself, Grogan seemed very shady, as if Harrigan had something to do with his death. Whenever Craig sought an explanation for any difficulties in his life, Harrigan always responded that he should dispatch his problems without haste and should never feel guilty about doing so. Craig found it to be both appealing and disturbing. Harrigan was a Luddite who thought films were short-lived and the best medium of knowledge was reading books. He even did not like Craig’s decision to become a screenwriter, but he never forced him to back off.
It was the quality of foresight that defined Harrigan the most. He virtually foretold the future of the website industry when Craig first showed him the magic of the iPhone. He said that if he continued to read these articles for free, the websites would be unable to make a living; thus, there must be advertisements in the articles he is reading for free. He, unfortunately, passed away from a heart attack before making many additional fascinating discoveries. Despite dying, he continued to exist in Craig’s memories, which is quite disturbing. He very well might have killed everyone who bothered and injured Craig. But “CCC s T” was the final message he sent. Perhaps in order to break this tie, Harrigan’s spirit begged Craig to quit, or he did not want to witness Craig’s regret. Craig threw the phone into the lake to put an end to Harrigan’s spirit.
Was The Film Different From The Book?
Stephen King’s famous short story “Mr. Harrigans’ Phone” is the timeless horror comedy on which this Netflix movie is based. Almost all of the details are the same as in the original narrative, including the setting, dialogue, and period. However, the timelines are a bit altered, and certain sporadic occurrences have been modified (such as sending Christmas cards rather than Valentine cards), etc. However, Harrigan’s mystery room is a new addition to this movie, which beautifully highlights Harrigan’s connection with Craig. However, aside from the comedy, most of the story’s essential points are covered in the film. In comparison, Netflix’s representation is quite somber and gloomy; readers of the story like it more as a horror comedy. However, there was a necessity for some improvisations that might darken or engross the cinematic portrayal without altering the main plot. The film “Mr. Harrigans’ Phone,” on the other hand, is a fairly unique and lovely effort inspired by Stephen King’s subtle story.