In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.
What We Thought:
I respect what The House with a Clock in Its Walls was trying to do and I was having fun with it for a lot of the movie, but ultimately it left me a little disappointed. I love the idea of bringing back kid based horror flicks like what I grew up with. Movies like The Monster Squad, The Gate, and Gremlins were a good way to introduce horror to a younger crowd. I liked them and grew to like horror because of it. Hopefully this movie inspires some youngsters to get into Stephen King and even Director Eli Roth’s more adult flicks!
Unfortunately something about this movie just left me wanting more or something different. The second act slowed down a bit and there are some flashbacks scenes that just weren’t overly necessary. Maybe as an adult I don’t need everything explained right in front of my eyes, but kids might. The ending itself happens rather quick and I honestly don’t know if it even makes sense, but it might not have to to the target audience.
There is a lot I liked about the movie. For a while I sat there really digging it. We get introduced to young Lewis, whose parents were killed and he has to move in with his eccentric Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black). Jonathan’s house is weird, it’s old and is full of clocks. Jonathan’s friend Florence (Blanchett) is always there with him and Lewis doesn’t know what to make of any of it. He has a hard time fitting in at his new school and you get that nostalgic vibe of being the new kid who also happens to be the weird kid on top of it. It has a The Sandlot vibe to it when it’s focusing on Lewis as a kid around kids.
Then Lewis is told his uncle’s secret, he’s a warlock. I’m digging this part as well. The house comes alive in a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse type atmosphere and Lewis is learning some tricks and it’s a fun kid’s magic flick. But then it kind of lost me. The heart of the story being about Lewis and trying to make friends and learn magic then turns into the history of Kyle MacLachlan’s character. The story becomes about Jonathan, his past, trying to find the clock and stopping MacLachlan’s plan. Lewis becomes a supporting character for a chunk of it and then eventually goes back to being the main character at the end. I think there was too much about Black and MacLachlan and they even threw in some backstory to Blanchett’s character. If they stuck to it being about Lewis, maybe you have the next Harry Potter franchise.
I give Eli Roth a lot of credit for what he’s trying to do with The House with a Clock in Its Walls I just really wish I loved it. It had potential to be a great introduction to genre films for kids and a movie adults could watch as well. Parts of it felt goofy like Goosebumps other parts felt greatly nostalgic like The Sandlot. I wish it was less goofy and more about Lewis throughout. It’s based on a book but I only know one person who had even heard of the book so I have no idea if there’s a built-in fan base for it. I am curious to see what it does at the box office because I definitely want to see more horror based flicks geared towards kids like the ones I grew up on.
Cast & Crew:
- Jack Black
- Cate Blanchett
- Colleen Camp
- Director Eli Roth
- Writer Eric Kripke
- Kyle MacLachlan
- Lorenza Izzo
- Owen Vaccaro
- Renée Elise Goldsberry
- Sunny Suljic
Recommended If You Like:
- The book the film is based on