The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by Eli Roth who is usually known for doing much darker more serious films such as Hostel or Death Wish which was released earlier this year. Now this isn’t quite the unexpected treat that something like Martin Scorsese’s Hugo was, however, it is still worth a watch I’d say. Jack Black brings the laughs and Cate Blanchett definitely adds a touch of class to the proceedings as per usual.
I think what I enjoyed about this the most was that I can see it being an excellent film for getting a younger audience used to scary films. There’s suspense and mystery aplenty, but whenever things appear to be getting a little too much, the tension will be broken up with a joke of some kind. I took my little sister to see this and she can be overly sensitive at the best of times, but she actually had a really good time with this.
So The House with a Clock in Its Walls is all about a young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt who aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world. We have a house and we have a lot of strange goings on, I mean the house itself is very much a living breathing character of its own. There’s this massive stained glass window that seems to display a different picture every single day, a moving armchair which behaves very much like a dog would, getting excited whenever someone comes to the door and so on.
The film has a lot of nice ideas going for it and most of the entertainment comes from the exchanges between Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, two characters that really couldn’t be any more different to one another and yet it still somehow works. My main gripe with this film is the reliance on CGI which just looks tacky and noticeably fake in some scenes. For a film all to do with evoking a sense of wonder, it really does spoil the magic. On top of that there was also a lot of incredibly lazy exposition, obviously certain things need to be explained but it almost felt like certain things weren’t explained very well in the first place, so then it would have to be gone over AGAIN.
You can have a pretty good time with The House with a Clock in Its Walls, but I do think it could have been a lot better and I wonder if Eli Roth was really the right director for the job…. There are a lot of films this reminds me of such as A Series of Unfortunate Events or the early Harry Potter films. I wouldn’t rate this over any of those, but if you’ve seen all of them and just can’t get enough of films about magic and mystery then definitely check this out.