Screenplay writer Eric Kripke and director Eli Roth brought the the 1973 John Bellairs novel, The House with a Clock in its Walls, to life on-screen. After reading mixed reviews, ranging from extreme praise to utmost disappointment, I was interested to watch the movie unfold. I brought my 11 year old son with me, happy to finally have a PG movie released that he was interested in seeing. That said, I am not sure this movie is appropriate for younger children with its demonic dolls, zombies and blood rituals. At times during the movie I was concerned about nightmares of my own, let alone my for younger son.
Jack Black as Jonathan Barnavelt and Cate Blanchett as Florence Zimmerman are funny, with a chemistry that makes you instantly like them, but my son and I agreed they could have done a better job casting Lewis Barnavelt, the orphaned nephew, played by Owen Vaccaro. Unlike Black and Blanchett, Vaccaro never inspired a connection with the audience.
Set in a small town in Michigan, the scenery was reminiscent of films released in the 1980s with the scary house looming at the end of a beautifully manicured street, and a creepy graveyard just a short walk away.
The movie’s special effects were impressive, creating a whimsical atmosphere that contrasted the sinister storyline. The way the house came to life was entertaining, allowing the house to become its own character of sorts in the film.
My son was conflicted when I asked him if he liked the movie. He said, “Some parts were funny and I liked the scary parts that made me jump out of my seat, but I didn’t like the zombie or the demon dolls, those were just creepy.”
Movie times: click here
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Director: Eli Roth
Rating: Rated PG (but should be PG-13 in my opinion)