“The House with a Clock in Its Walls”
3 out of 5 Stars
Director: Eli Roth
Writer: Eric Kripke, John Bellairs (novel)
Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro
Genre: Comedy, Family, Horror
Rated: PG for thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language
SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - Synopsis: Following the death of his parents, young Lewis Barnavelt travels by bus to Zebedee, Michigan, to live with his eccentric uncle, a warlock with a house full of magical secrets.
Review: “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a horror film that targets younger audiences, assuming those children have a tolerance for being scared. It’s far spookier than a Goosebumps film, but not nearly frightening enough to frighten those with a driver’s license.
Set against the backdrop of the 1950s, the story finds Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), a young and awkward boy, thrown into the strange and wonderful world of witches and warlocks that he never thought existed. Book smart, but socially inexperienced, Lewis tries to navigate a new school while also adjusting to a home life that bears no resemblance to the one he has just left behind. In a bid for popularity, Lewis breaks his uncle’s only rule and manages to push the entire inhabitants of the world one step closer to non-existence.
Director Eli Roth has never been known to show restraint. So, it should be no surprise that there is an abundance of pumpkin splatter thrown across the screen and some juvenile humor that will probably draw laughs from children and groans from adults.
Performances are appropriately over the top, particularly from Jack Black, as Uncle Barnavelt, and Vaccaro. Blanchett keeps things a little more grounded, but there’s always a wink and a glimmer in her eyes.
As a child, I would have loved “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” As an adult, I found it amusing.