Mysterious old houses have been the centerpiece of many films through the years. Think of the creepy factor behind the Psycho house or the domicile in The Amityville Horror. Each is an additional character in their respective films. In the film The House With a Clock in Its Walls, there is a creaky old house filled with the tick tock that itself is a character.
Young Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) has had tragedy strike his life. Lewis has lost both of his parents and is being sent to stay with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black). It’s a new school, a new start and a new creepy old house. This house holds a secret, and before you know it, Lewis will find out about the clock that ticks within.
Lewis’ uncle just happens to be a warlock, and his neighbor Florence (Cate Blanchett) is a witch; together they are searching to find the source of the house’s ticking. The pair believes that the house is counting down to something, but what?
When Lewis finds out his uncle is a warlock, he wants to learn all the tricks of his trade. Although reluctant at first, Jonathan agrees to teach him the ways of magic. Not only will the magic will help him in school and in his attempts to win friends, but it also may just be the thing to help his uncle defeat old friend Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan), who seems to have something to do with the mysterious clock.
From director Eli Roth, who has a history with more hardcore horror films like Hostel and The Green Inferno, we get a film that is geared for the whole family and falls more in line with the Goosebumps idea.
Black is a great choice for Uncle Lewis. He brings his ability to be silly but serious and to be both father figure and friend. And the marvelous Blanchett is, well, Cate Blanchett — she’s great in everything she does.
House never finds a way to walk the line between true PG-rated scares and its darker undertones. It felt as if something was missing throughout the film, and many of the stories start but aren’t seen through.
For a family-friendly scary movie, it will most likely go over as simply agreeable. Some sequences are a bit on the scary side, and the magic can be a bit disturbing.
The House With a Clock in its Walls is available On Demand and on DVD beginning Dec. 18. Check your cable system for availability.