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MOVIE REVIEW: “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” Is A Kid-Friendly Mix of Humor, Horror and Hocus Pocus

Gore maestro Eli Roth tones it down in this kid-friendly dark fantasy comedy horror flick based on the 1973 novel of the same name by John Bellairs. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic and Kyle MacLachlan. Produced by Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment and Mythology Entertainment, it is distributed by Universal Pictures.

In the film set in 1955, we follow 10-year old Lewis Branavelt as he stays with his uncle in New Zebedee, Michigan after being recently orphaned. Unknown to him, his uncle Jonathan is actually a magical warlock. And together with his neighbor Florence, they must find a way to stop an evil warlock from coming back from the dead, or else it will be the cause of all our Doomsday.

Eli Roth has been known for his R-rated horror films in the past years like “Cabin Fever,” “Hostel.” “The Green Inferno,” and “Knock Knock.” Therefore, the family-friendly fantasy horror flick “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” was a surprise to us. The film was obviously a challenge for director Eli Roth since he is very limited with the amount of scares he could put into it given the PG rating, but it seems like he was very passionate about this project as the final results show.

Despite being a gore and blood-free children’s movie, the film is still capable of giving you the creeps and the chills. It also had a few mind jump scares here and there that fans of the genre will appreciate. One particular scene that will give you the heebie-jeebies involves a set of old and creepy dolls and mannequins coming to life. That seven-foot Devil puppet might even haunt you in your dreams.

The film’s script, written by Eric Kripke and based on the 1973 mystery fiction novel written by John Bellairs is full of witty and hilarious banter between Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. It’s also loaded with some twists and turns.

The film’s pacing is something younger audiences can follow. The film’s visuals are also breathtaking. The house itself is stunning to look at with its exquisite decoration. The special effects are all dazzling and eye-popping. The story’s 50’s period setting also adds to the movie’s look and tone. The set pieces are well-choreographed , especially the film’s exciting final act.

The movie benefits a lot from its cast. Jack Black plays Jonathan Barnavelt, Lewis’s uncle and a magical warlock. Black never fails to entertain us with his hilarious schtick and gives life to every scene he is in. Cate Blanchett is wickedly delightful as Florence Zimmerman, Jonathan’s witch neighbor and good friend. She throws in the wittiest and most amusing lines in the film, thanks to the script that gives her and co-star Black lots of comical exchanges. Owen Vaccaro is Lewis Barnavelt, Jonathan’s 10-year old nephew who discovers their family’s secret, alongside the mystery hidden within the walls of the house.

So if you are looking for a film that you and the whole family will enjoy, look no further. “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is something that not only kids, but audiences from all ages will surely appreciate with its enjoyable mix of humor, mild horror and hocus pocus.


5 – Excellent
4 – Very Good
3 – Good
2 – Tolerable
1 – Terrible

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