Now Showing: The House with a Clock in its Walls

Review by David Gifford


The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a movie directed by Eli Roth (Hostel) and is his first kid-friendly movie.

The movie stars Jack Black (School of Rock) as Jonathan Barnavelt, Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s 8) as Florence Zimmerman, and Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home) as Lewis Barnavelt.

The tale mostly follows Lewis as a young kid who, during the war, has to move in with his uncle Jonathan after the death of his parents. At the house that Jonathon owns things become magical and odd. This is a world of magic, and given its source material’s influence to the Harry Potter franchise the tone feels similar to the earlier films in that series.

The house is a character of its own. The chairs move, the shrubbery moves, everything about this house can be alive and it always gives a sense of mystery, but good-natured fun.

This is a great introduction movie for kids that are interested in the horror genre. Unlike most of the movies that try to do that this one actually has some legitimate build-up which I believe is thanks to strong direction from Eli Roth.

House also adds a lot of humor, but there are some jokes that fall flat, at least for my taste in comedy.

There are some great scares, even a few mild jump scares. It works for what it does. The suspense of the scenes might be pretty frightening for some kids that aren’t into horror films in general. It might keep little kids on the edge of their seats.

The acting performances here are all pretty good, especially Cate Blanchett. She owns the screen most of the time she has it, and her character is both layered and interesting. She also appears frequently, so they knew what they had.

Jack Black is often times hit or miss with me - in this case he was a hit. His zany style worked well with the sense of humor of the movie, and he always off set the scary stuff to make it less scary for the kids. I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you are a Twin Peaks fan you will be in for a treat with the villian.

Overall this is a great movie to start off the Halloween season. If your kids want something a little scary for Halloween I couldn’t recommend too many other movies that are better for that than this one.

I recommend seeing it in the theater and I give it an 8/10.


David Gifford is a college student, a sales rep for The Mountain Echo and a gaming and movie enthusiast. Check out his podcast: Reasonably Reel.