Thumbs up or thumbs down? Simple, spoiler free reviews.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls is an American family fantasy film based on the 1973 juvenile fiction novel of the same name by John Bellairs. It tells the story of a recently orphaned 10-year-old, Lewis Barnavelt, is sent to New Zebedee, Michigan to live with his strange uncle Jonathan in his creaky old house. Lewis only wants a normal childhood but soon finds out that he is in line for anything but that. After discovering his uncle is in fact a warlock and that their neighbour, Florence, is a witch he too enters a world of magic and sorcery. But this new found power is not limited to good people: Lewis learns of Isaac Izard, an evil wizard constructed a hidden clock using black magic and hid it in the house. But what is it counting down too? Lewis, Jonathan and Florence must find the clock before it’s too late!
Director and horror expert Eli Roth, takes a lighter tone with The House with a Clock in its Walls. It has a smidge of ‘spooky spooky’ but its cartoony style and humour will make this an easy watch both kiddie-winkles and adults in the audience. It’s a magic adventure, rather than anything else. Although I think we can all agreed that animatronic dolls are creepy at the best of times!
The highlight of the film is the chemistry and relationship displayed between Jonathon Barnavelt and Florence Zimmerman, played by Jack Black and Cate Blanchett respectively. The pair play off each other really well with their bickering quips and wisecracks, they are the driving force behind the film. I’ve had to make a U-turn of opinion of Jack Black, I used to find him quite annoying but ever since he’s brilliant performance in Jamanji I have to admit I’ve had a change of heart. He’s over the top style works perfectly for this type of film.
Owen Vaccaro, who plays Lewis Barnavelt, is a little hit and miss depending on what is being asked of him. His crying face could do with some work, although then again, some people just cry weirdly don’t they? He certainly nailed the ‘weird kid who doesn’t fit in’ vibe though. The performances from the younger actors in general aren’t exactly sensational, but not bad enough to be more than a footnote in an otherwise positive review. And let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be a kids film without two badly acted bullies could it?
It’s fun, silly and ultimately a good time. Although its rushed final act stops the movie from really excelling. The finale goes into daft overdrive and you never truly get to experience the power of the dark warlock Isaac Izzard, which is a shame and I’ll admit that the unfulfilled villain did dampen my opinions of the overall flick. However the possessed armchair who acts like the family dog was my favourite character.
Kids love it and parents should also have a good time watching. I recommend it!