Is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone Based on a True Story or a Book?

Image Credit: Nicole Rivelli/Netflix

Directed by John Lee Hancock, Netflix’s horror film ‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ revolves around Craig, who gets hired by infamous businessman Mr. John Harrigan to be his book reader. After several years, Mr. Harrigan dies of heart disease, affecting severely. Craig keeps the phone he has gifted to Harrigan inside his coat just before the latter’s burial. The 2022 film progresses through the startling aftermath of Harrigan’s death as Craig starts to receive text messages from the businessman’s phone in his coffin. Since contact from the afterlife is an intriguing and controversial subject matter in real life, the viewers must be curious to know whether the film’s origin lies in such a real-life event. Well, let us share everything you need to know about the same!

Is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone Based on a Book?

‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ is based on the eponymous novella written by Stephen King, published as one of the four novellas in the collection ‘If It Bleeds.’ Director John Lee Hancock, who also wrote the film, had to confront the challenges of adapting a literary work to conceive the film. “Because it’s a novella and it’s only 80-something pages, [you have] to jump in and grab onto thematically what I think he’s [King] trying to say and activate some of it into scenes that aren’t necessarily all in the novella,” Hancock told Netflix’s Tudum.

Image Credit: Nicole Rivelli/Netflix

To create the strong and endearing bond between Craig and Mr. Harrigan, Hancock reached out to the renowned writer himself. “I leaned into everything that Stephen King wrote, and talked to him about their [Craig and Mr. Harrigan’s] relationship and how their bond began over books,” the director told Variety. “It goes from books, to what do the books mean and how does that relate to life, and then it turns into life advice — and then into life threats. There was a natural progression from these books, and every book is there for a very specific reason, thematically, so they all kind of feed the story,” Hancock added.

Although King’s novella and Hancock’s film aren’t based on a true story of afterlife contact, the roots of both works are in reality. Both the novella and film can be considered allegories that explore the unignorable presence of mobile phones or technology for that matter in the lives of human beings. In Craig and Harrigan’s lives, the phone becomes the bridge between two lonely souls who understand each other more than anyone since they share similar grief. When Mr. Harrigan dies, Craig refrains from separating himself from the same bridge as he doesn’t want to be lonely again.

King’s novella and Hancock’s film depict how such bridges are formed in the lives of any human being upon the introduction of mobile phones, for better or worse. King’s sinister take on such relationships that exist or are governed by technology also depicts the necessity of “moving on” and “letting go” as Craig does upon realizing the starling effect of phones in his life and his relationship with Harrigan. Although King conveys the same by integrating it into a fictional tale, his interpretation of relationships that are sustained with the help of technology is indeed relevant in our post-modern time. Thus, it is not a surprise that Hancock described the film as a “cautionary fairy tale,” in reference to the extent of technology’s influence on our lives.

On the surface of these allegorical layers and interpretations, ‘Mr. Harrigan’s Phone’ has an admirable relationship that grows beyond the boundaries of age and social status. “More than anything, it’s about an odd relationship between a billionaire in his 80s and a [young man] and the bonds of friendship, and how far will you go for a friend?” Hancock added to Netflix’s Tudum. Death and grief, two inevitable factors of life, are also explored in the film, specifically through Craig and Harrigan’s grief over their respective mothers’ deaths and the consolation one provides to the other to deal with the same.

Read More: Where is Mr. Harrigan’s Phone Filmed?