The House With a Clock in It’s Walls | Movie Review

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Can you hear the ticking? Unfortunately this clock has run out of juice.

In a time where fantasy films run rampant, The House with a Clock in its Walls plays things a bit too safe. The overall concept and art direction are incredibly unique, however, the story does not live up to its full potential.

The House With a Clock in its Walls takes place in the 1950’s, in a time where live stage magic has declined with the rise of television and film. Lewis, a ten-year-old boy arrives in a new town after his parents are killed in a car crash. He meets his Uncle Jonathan, (Jack Black) and his eccentric neighbor Florence, (Cate Blanchett) and settles into his new bizarre looking home. But it doesn’t take Lewis long to discover that there is to the house than meets the eye, as he hears a loud ticking inside of its walls. When he confronts his uncle about the noise, he reveals to Lewis that he is a warlock, and the house is filled with magical oddities.

Lewis then embarks on a journey to becoming a warlock himself, but during his training, he is tempted to break his uncles one rule by a boy he befriends at school. He steals a magic spell book and unknowingly raises a powerful dark wizard from the dead, the very same who hid the clock in the walls a year prior. As time ticks down, Jonathan, Florence, and Lewis must find out where the ominous clock lies and stop it before all of humanity is erased from existence.

With such compelling characters and a cheesy 1950’s style, The House with a Clock in its Walls has so much potential to be an iconic fantasy horror for the next generation. However, the weak plot and rushed scenes make it hard to identify and fall in love with the characters. Jack Black plays his usual overly animated self and Cate Blanchett is a nice contrast with her calm demeanor, and the message to “be weird, be yourself” to kids is one that is important, albeit a little generic.

The main issue with the film is the writing itself. There are some funny moments and some genuinely creepy ones, but overall it feels it a bit too on the nose. The plot plays out all the required beats, and there isn’t much room for suspense. When the villain and his dastardly plot is revealed, there’s no surprise to it at all, and I left the film thinking of more creative ways to end it rather than enjoying its resolution.

The film has it’s fun moments and the sets and costumes are simply stunning. This is a visually gorgeous homage to old magicians such as Houdini and Blackstone, but don’t expect it to try anything new in terms of storytelling.

If you are looking for a fun night out with the kids to get them ready for Halloween, then The House with a Clock in its Walls will do the job. But this film is just a flash in the pan and over time it will probably disappear. 

About The House with a Clock in its Walls

Synopsis: An orphaned boy moves in with his eccentric uncle and discovers a world of magic. But as he learns to become a warlock, an evil nemesis arises and he must stop his plans before the clock ticks down.

Directors: Eli Roth 

Writers: Eric Kripke, based on the novel by John Bellairs

Stars: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vacarro, Kyle MacLachlan 

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1h 44min