Horror master Eli Roth is one of those filmmakers that has taken some chances with projects that clearly offer up more what he wants to create as opposed to just trying to do the norm. Fresh off the hills of his awesome take on Death Wish he is now switching gears completely taking on his first foray into children’s films with The House With a Clock in Its Walls. The film is based on the famed book written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Renee Elise Goldsberry, and Owen Vaccaro, but does it bring anything magical to the table or will it be a spell not worth casting?
The House With a Clock in Its Walls follows the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis 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. The trailers were a bit hit and miss with me seemingly offering a tone like the Goosebumps film Black starred in that I did enjoy. With the addition of Eli Roth I was way more interested in seeing what this team had put together and I was not disappointed. While this film is rocking the rare PG rating it never fails to push the limits to create the kind of family/kid film that we sadly haven’t gotten in a long time.
The overall tone here was very much like Gremlins, Escape To With Mountain and those other films of the 80s that took the genre in a direction that didn’t dumb it down to be a kids movie, but instead made it something that is creepy and fun all at once. Roth has done a fantastic job of creating an old school film that brings some great visuals and fun that offers up the over the top fun that kids love, but also elements that might scare them a bit in the best way possible. Black and Blanchett are pure magic together. Their chemistry and banter is some of the best elements of the film showcasing their love hate relationship and making you love every minute they are on screen.
Young Owen Vaccaro shines in his role bringing that nerdy innocence to the role along with a sense of wonder that makes you fully buy into what he has been thrust into. There are so many great visual moments and details that might remind some of the world of Harry Potter, but you can see Roth’s horror touch lightly spread onto it to make something that is truly fun and memorable.
I so hope this film does well and we get another outing with this trio. There are several books in the series and could make for a great new and different franchise for the kids to latch onto. This film reminded me of my childhood and I hope that this is not the last time we have seen this magical world.
Review by Bobby Blakey - Bobby reviews way more movies on his own website than the genre-specific ones I post here. Check out Bobby's awesome website and his live show he co-hosts with his wife, Drusilla, at Hollywood Matrimony.