The House with a Clock in its Walls is quite a mouthful and it’s a good ode to a film brimful of fantastical elements.
Eli Roth is usually known for producing gore films, which makes this project quite a departure. The relatively family-friendly plot is a charming throwback to scary movies of decades past. Complete with a spooky house and an even creepier villain the film trundles along nicely all the while aided by a solid cast.
After the death of his parents a ten-year-old boy, Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), is sent to live with his mysterious uncle Jonathan Barnavelt, played by Jack Black. From the outset its clear that Lewis is somewhat of an outcast struggling to find his place amongst his peers. He is soon enticed by the mysteries of the old house and before long sets off on his own magical journey. As the slightly goofy uncle Black delivers a solid, run-of-the-mill performance. In partnership with Black’s character is the next-door neighbour Mrs. Zimmerman played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. As a once powerful witch Mrs. Zimmerman’s powers have waned after suffering a terrible loss. Unfortunately this isn’t an aspect of the story that is explored enough. Nevertheless, her sass remains well in tact and unexplained obsessions with the colour purple lends a humourous edge to the narrative. And if truth were told no film in which Cate Blanchett appears could ever be without merit.
If you’re fan of the fantastical TV series Once Upon A Time you’ll recognize several parallels to it in this film and you’ll more than likely have fun watching it too.