The House with a Clock in Its Walls

2018-10-05 07:04
Owen Vaccaro  in a scene from the movie The House


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 he accidentally awakens the dead.


The House with a Clock in Its Walls has impressed and disappointed critics all around the world in (almost) equal measure with a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A mark that is better than passing but not by much. 

Harsher critics have said that director Eli Roth has made a mildly entertaining film strictly for younger moviegoers, lacking in storytelling. Whereas fans have said that it’s a fun horror film that’s kid friendly. I land somewhere in the latter half. 

I have to say that it’s perfect for a younger audience that struggle to fit in for whatever reason and need to see a ‘weird’ kid be hero against all odds, (especially after they mess up). 

I know that might seem like a very small audience, but the reality is that junior and even senior school is still a space where kids are pressured to fit in at all costs. I think what the harsher critics might have forgotten is what it feels like to have no one to play with at break because you love big words and research and/or don’t excel at sports. 

This movie uses creepy clocks, fun scares and a mystery to teach kids to accept their peculiarities and that it’s totally possible to find their own unique clique of weirdos to form their own family. A message that I would have loved to hear when I was ten and obsessed with fanciful fictional books and heroes on TV shows. 

The film is based on a 1973 book written by John Bellairs which was illustrated by the famous Edward Gorey. The House with a Clock in Its Walls is the first in the series of twelve books featuring Lewis Barnavelt, the young protagonist played very well by Owen Vaccaro and it does feel like a lot of the story in the books has been truncated to fit into the film. 

A fact that does do a little bit of a disservice to the character development and results in what can only be described as an erratic flow to the story that clearly had a lot more to give, if only it were given more time. 

Jack Black and Cate Blanchett as Jonathan Barnavelt and Florence Zimmerman, respectively, work really well together to deliver some genuine laughs that land for grown ups and kids alike. Black is the epitome of the silly uncle you always want to see at a family gathering because you know he has some cool trick to show you. Someone who is guaranteed to make you smile regardless of your mood. Whereas Blanchett is regal as ever and made me wish Mrs Zimmerman could get her own stand-alone film. 

Take a kid to watch this film at cinemas this weekend and remind them it’s ok not to fit in. 

Read more on:    cate blanchett  |  jack black  |  movies

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