The House with a Clock in its Walls: Film Review

Eli Roth is known for making horrors such as Cabin Fever and Hostel and he’s now bringing us a family-friendly spooky tale with an annoyingly long title, The House with a Clock in its Walls.

Jack Black stars as Jonathan, who has been put in charge of his 10-year-old nephew Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) after his parents die in a car crash. Jonathan lives in a creepy mysterious house than emanates a curious ticking noise from its walls – turns out Jonathan is a warlock and his best friend and neighbour Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) is a witch. They teach Lewis magic and he unwittingly wakes up the powerful warlock Isaac Izard (Kyle McLachlan) from the dead and he wants to return to the house and use his Doomsday Clock to end the world.

This is a pretty entertaining movie. I’m surprised it’s not being released closer to Halloween because it would the perfect kids’ movie for that holiday – there are scary pumpkins galore! I think they will be amazed by the magic, laugh at the creations – such as the armchair that’s basically a dog and the topiary griffin that poops leaves – and be a bit scared towards the end. Elements of the film – like a very spooky set of dolls and dummies in a basement – may be too scary for some young ones. They certainly creeped me out!

There was a lot more to the story than I believed from the trailer and it whips along at a pace so I was never bored. The set design is fantastic, the script has plenty of witty moments and I laughed out loud a ton, mostly from visual gags and Black, who is on fine comedy form.

He plays the same character he usually does – eccentric and flamboyant- but he does it so well and that’s what is needed here. It’s nice to see Blanchett doing something more whimsical and family friendly. She is one badass witch with a penchant for purple who also has a sad backstory. I want to have my own umbrella weapon! I don’t want to reveal too much about McLachlan, but as a Twin Peaks fan, I loved seeing him back on my screen, hamming it up as the villain under a ton of ageing make-up.

Vaccaro is cute and likeable enough, but the emotional stuff seemed to be a struggle, with him really trying to push some tears out. It didn’t seem to come easily or natural to him, like other child stars. I think kids will like him though. Besides that, there were a couple of iffy CGI moments that surprised me since it’s rare to see those now, and the ending definitely didn’t make sense. Like, there is a HUGE plothole.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls desperately needs a catchier title because I really don’t think it helps with marketing at all – doesn’t really grab people’s attention and provoke interest, which is a shame because it’s a decent kids’ film.

In cinemas now 

SEE ALSO: My pics of Jack Black and Cate Blanchett at the world premiere 

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