in Phantoms (1998) we discover the phones are out of order when Lisa and Jennifer find the maid, dead on the floor. When the girls head to the police station, it's confirmed the phone are not working.

But, there is a scene during the girl's walk to the police station, right after they leave Jennifer's house where the camera is inside of a building (not sure if it was a house or a shop) showing the two walking past the window.

In this very short scene, the phone is ringing in the building. Why? What is the purpose? We later find out that the ancient evil can control the communications so what does it mean? Was it simply a hint for the audience or just to add a creep factor?

  • I guess it's just for fearful effect. Or maybe it just tried to lure them in? But I haven't seen it for quite some time (yet always enjoyed this movie). Wasn't there also a scene where they pick up the phone and hear strange scrambled noises (or was this from another movie)?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 6, 2014 at 19:56
  • @NapoleonWilson yes, there are a few scenes like that where the ancient evil is communicating with them. Jul 6, 2014 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


This, and a lot of other similar "unexplainable" horror effects occur in the book, too. (As Dean Koontz repeatedly asserts, he is not a horror writer, but a writer who uses horror effects.)

However, there is an in-world explanation, and it's conveniently the same as the meta-explanation you offered yourself: "Was it...just to add a creep factor?"

Yes, yes it was. But it was The Enemy who had this motivation. The Enemy, as described in the book (and less clearly exposited in the movie) was a simple, ancient organism that fed on humans, and had developed a sort of malevolent ego based on the fear and mystery it could create. These concepts had passed to it from the humans it had feasted on.

It's essentially the whole premise of the book: The creature creates traditional (even hokey) elements of horror because its ego feeds on the fear and mystery it creates in humans.

And when that's your premise, all best are off, as far as events having to have a rational purpose.

I apologize for the lack of quotes but it's been decades since I read the book and don't have an electronic source handy. The movie, for all its shortcomings, does a fair job of conveying the main premise.

"Affleck was The Bomb in Phantoms!" -- Ben Affleck as "Holden" in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

  • haha, +1 for the Phantoms quote and I accept this as the answer since no one else has anything better, but your response does make sense, it was added just for creep factor based on self described writing style of Koontz. Jul 25, 2016 at 20:53
  • Congratulations, this answer is the winner of the monthly answer challenge.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Aug 9, 2016 at 14:16

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