REVIEW: The House with the Clock in Its Walls

Jack Black stars in the Eli Roth directed family friendly fantasy flick. The House with the Clock in Its Walls. Unlike Roth’s previous scary movies (Hostel, Hostel Part II), this fanciful film is delightful, entertaining, and not too scary for viewers of all ages.

Although Jack Black generally feels out of place in the 1950s, the setting of 1955 was perfect for the story of little Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who loses his parents and relocates to his Uncle Jonathan’s spooky house in Michigan. Turns out the house isn’t spooky so much as it is magical, since his Uncle is a Warlock (male witch).

It’s a few (many) years since I’ve seen a movie in IMAX, and I cannot say if this film would be less enjoyable on a regular screen, but the hues were incredibly vibrant and the effects felt high definitional. The colorful adventure of The House with the Clock in Its Walls shines beautifully with engaging characters, including Jonathan’s platonic friend and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett). Their playful friendship embodies the ideal platonic companionship people should strive for in their non-romantic lives. Blanchett’s performance was grounded and captivating, as one would expect, but actively ensured not to steal the spotlight from Black and Vaccaro. All the characters in this movie were engaging, keeping their audience attentive through the entire hour and 45 minutes.

While this movie is intended for younger audiences, there was an adequate balance between mature jokes and potty humor (perhaps one too many poop jokes), with a dash of paternal puns. In the end, maybe a couple of questions were left unanswered, which could have been intentional as this film is based on a book series and has potential for sequels.

Overall this movie was a charming ride, and really quite enjoyable. As someone who does not particularly prefer traditional horror films, The House with the Clock in Its Walls had the perfect balance of suspense, adventure, and even a tiny jump scare( or four). I could easily see this movie becoming a Halloween classic.

The House with the Clock in Its Walls opens everywhere Friday, September 21st. Watch the trailer below:

— Yael Tygiel