Review: The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

Directed by: Eli Roth | 105 minutes | comedy, family | Actors: Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Lorenza Izzo, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, Perla Middleton, Sandy Givelber, Alli Beckman, Braxton Bjerken

Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) is ten when his parents are killed in a fatal car accident. He has to live with his uncle whom he has never met in his life. Armed with goggles, Magic 8-ball and stacks of dictionaries (difficult words are his greatest passion), he sets off. From the first meeting, Lewis notices that his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) is a weirdo full of secrets. And when they arrive at the haunted Victorian house where Jonathan lives, those secrets (and dangers) only get bigger! Fortunately, neighbor Florence (Cate Blanchett) appears to have a soft character, Uncle Jonathan is not the most annoying and “being a strange bird” Lewis is not unknown either. Lewis soon feels at home. Yet something is not right and inexplicable things happen in the house. And where does that strange ticking of that clock come from?

‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ is an adventurous film full of magic and humor that young and older viewers can dream away with with great pleasure. An exciting plot unfolds in a house where things seem to be a mess (especially at night). This magical world is brought to life by beautiful visuals. But because of those beautiful visuals (but also because of well-timed scares and the horrifying ticking of an untraceable clock) that ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ can be a bit exciting for some children. Especially at the beginning of the film when the plot is not completely clear and the suspense is still very high, the night scenes have quite a horror-like touch. It may be too exciting for one child, but another will love it!

Blanchett and Black have really good chemistry together. This is due both to the smoothly written dialogue full of creative insults that they swing back and forth throughout the film, and to the strong acting of both actors. Where Black, cleverly cast, plays in his usual power, Blanchett shows that she is master of all genres. She effortlessly shows a comical side, but also manages to subtly touch the viewer during moments of drama.

The only downside of ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ is that there is a bit too much history attached to the story. It has mainly been chosen to explain this to the viewer in “explanation dialogue” instead of putting it into action or imagining it. Fortunately, all this info is packaged in smooth dialogue and there is a lot of spectacle against it, so that the film more than stands up.

‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ is an exciting and original family film that can entertain the whole family with a lot of humor and adventure. And above all, it also carries the beautiful message that it’s okay to be “weird”. If you want to walk around with goggles and a swimming cap on your head, then you should do it! You will automatically find a few like-minded people to “be weird with” together and with that ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ also brings a smile to your face.

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