Netflix’s new No. 1 movie is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone — and it’s based on a Stephen King novel

Jaeden Martell as Craig and Donald Sutherland as Mr. Harrigan in Netflix's Mr. Harrigan's Phone
(Image credit: Netflix)

October is the perfect time for watching scary movies with all the lights switched off, and Netflix is hoping to ensnare horror fans with its latest film based on a short story from legendary author Stephen King. And it appears to have worked.

Named Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, the spooky flick arrived on the streaming service earlier this week (Tuesday, October 5) and it's already attracting plenty of subscriber interest as we head into the weekend — and we called it out as one of the 9 best new movies to watch this week.

After just a few days on the streaming service, Mr. Harrigan's Phone has already rockted into the Netflix Top 10. The film just jumped to the No. 1 slot, after sitting No. 2 position. It overtook Last Seen Alive, a Gerard Butler-led action thriller that found a second-life via streaming. 

With Halloween on the horizon, we expect Mr. Harrigan's Phone to stick around in the top-performing charts. However, it’s another Netflix film that has split opinions, with viewers seemingly more impressed than critics. 

What is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone about? 

Mr. Harrigan’s Phone casts Jaeden Martell — no stranger to King adaptions, he also starred in 2017’s It — as Craig, a young boy living in a small town, who befriends the reclusive billionaire Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland). 

The unlikely duo quickly strike up a close connection after bonding over their shared love of books and reading. Craig even gives Mr. Harrigan his first cell phone so the pair can stay in touch more easily. However, when Mr. Harrigan sadly passes away, Craig is shocked to discover he can still communicate with his friend via the phone that was buried with him. 

Even more disturbing Craig’s real-world tormentors start to experience strange hauntings from a vengeful spirit that Craig suspects could be Mr. Harrigan. Part coming-of-age tale, part horror flick, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is based on the popular short story from Stephen King’s If It Bleeds collection first released in 2020.

What do critics say about Mr. Harrigan’s Phone?   

It’s fair to say that critics haven't been super impressed with Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. As of writing, the movie has scored a fairly disappointing 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, but this number is slowly rising. In fact, it's increased almost 10% in the last 24 hours, and could increase further as more critics weigh in. 

While the film's RT rating may be pretty underwhelming, it is far from the lowest score a King adaptation has ever received. 2016’s Cell managed just 11%, with 2017's heavily-criticized cinematic take on The Dark Tower not fairing much better scoring a woeful 16%. 

Brian Tallerico of praised the performances of Sutherland and Martell but quipped that “you’re going to want to send this one to voicemail.” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich was even more cutting, declaring “such bottom-drawer source material proves to be an insurmountable disadvantage for John Lee Hancock’s Netflix adaptation of the same name, a downcast and thoroughly dreadful supernatural drama.”

Benjamin Lee of the Guardian wasn’t particularly impressed either saying “It’s all rather unforgivably dull, a call to be swiftly ignored." And AV Club’s Courtney Howard concluded their review by noting the film is “more akin to a stern lecture by a grownup than an eerie, unsettling cautionary tale.” 

Positives write-ups are currently in fairly short supply, but Slashfilm did label the movie “an old-fashioned ghost story.” Furthermore, this is already looking like another case of critics and viewers not seeing eye-to-eye, as Mr. Harrigan’s Phone currently enjoys a much more positive 63% audience score. 

Should you stream Mr. Harrigan’s Phone?  

Many of the biggest new movies of Halloween 2022 are going theatrical only with the likes of Smile and Halloween Ends not currently available to stream (though we do know how to watch the Scream movies online). So, if you’re looking to put together a horror marathon at home then it’s definitely worth considering giving Mr. Harrigan’s Phone a watch. 

It’s probably unlikely to be the scariest horror film you’ve ever seen — it’s only rated PG-13 after all — but Sutherland and Martell appear to be on top form, and the premise seems ripe for enjoyable spookiness. Critics aren’t particularly impressed, but don’t write the movie off entirely as Netflix subscribers are clearly making a stronger connection with this one.  

Next: Check out what to watch this weekend: 9 new shows and movies on Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu. Also, one of our own believes everyone should watch horror movies. Here's everything you need for Rick and Morty season 6 episode 6 and here's why Rings of Power episode 7 just ruined the show for me.

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team. 

  • Leftwinga
    Movie was good, but everyone seems to forget the twilight zone was the original "dead speaks thru phone" type of episodes. Great additions just enough to make it 5heir own story. Worth a watch