the house with a clock in its walls

DIRECTOR: eli roth (the green inferno, knock knock, death wish)
STARRING: jack black, cate blanchett, owen vaccaro, and kyle maclachlan

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Ten-year-old Lewis goes to live with his oddball uncle in a creaky old house that contains a mysterious ticktock noise. He soon learns that Uncle Jonathan and his feisty neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, are powerful practitioners of the magic arts. When Lewis accidentally awakens the dead, the town's sleepy facade suddenly springs to life - revealing a secret and dangerous world of witches, warlocks and deadly curses.

The House With a Clock in Its Walls is the kinda Tim Burton, Goosebump - esk movie I used to both love and cover my eyes in when I was a kid. Although the ending feels a little drawn out,The House With a Clock in Its Walls has all you could want from a supernatural, wizardy, kid friendly horror with fun, frights, and flights of fantasy.

After the death of his parents Lewis has to go and live with his mysterious uncle Jonathan in his even more mysterious house. Lewis discovers that uncle Jonathan is a warlock and his neighbour Mrs. Zimmerman is a witch and that they are all in peril due to the clock that lies somewhere in the walls of the house. 

The House With a Clock in Its Walls envelops you in a nice old nostalgic hug. Perhaps its the 50's setting or that it gives you all the feels you had when watching 80's Amblin films. Either way, you feel right at home from the outset. There's spells to learn, an adorable chair that acts like a dog, and a pooping topiary griffin to avoid. Its truly magical. 

But its also a bit scary - perhaps a little too scary for young kids as the little girl behind us in the screening had to be comforted by her dad in the more scary scenes. The level of scariness doesn't really match the mystery of the clock hidden somewhere in the house which when revealed is quite simple. The pacing of the ending is a little odd too, with the arrival of the 'baddie' being quite drawn out.

 

The House With a Clock in Its Walls is at its best when it focuses on the magic and on exploring the feelings of Lewis losing his parents, Uncle Jonathan being shunned by his father, and the pain of Mrs. Zimmerman's experience during the war. 

That being said Jack Black and Cate Blanchett make a cracking team as they banter and bicker with some quite funny results. Black brings the comic timing and zany energy we have come to expect, but also brings his dramatic side that we have seen in more recent times in Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot and The Polka King.  Do I really have to say something about Blanchett? It's Cate Blanchett. She was outstanding. 

Although the ending feels a little drawn out,The House With a Clock in Its Walls has all you could want from a supernatural, wizardry, kid friendly horror with fun, frights, and flights of fantasy.

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The House with a Clock in its Walls is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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