The House With A Clock in Its Walls Review

PG: Thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language

Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Reliance Entertainment

Dir: Eli Roth | Writes: Eric Kripke

Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Lorenza Izzo

This is going to be a quick one.


Lewis Barnavelt, after losing his parents, is sent to Michigan to live with his uncle Jonathan. He discovers his uncle is a warlock, and enters a world of magic and sorcery. But this power is not limited to good people: Lewis learns of Isaac Izard, an evil wizard who wanted to cause the Apocalypse so that he could see what happened afterwards. To do this, he constructed a magical clock with black magic, as long as it exists it will keep ticking, counting down to doomsday. He died before he could finish the clock, but he hid the clock in his house, where Uncle Jonathan now lives. Now Lewis and Jonathan must find the clock before it's too late, and before Isaac's wife, Selena, gets to it.


Haha. Eli Roth made a family picture! It’s funny looking at his filmography and seeing him go from “Hostel”, “Green Inferno”, and (earlier this year) “Death Wish” to A FAMILY FILM. It’s as bizarre as when Trey Parker starred in “Despicable Me 3”. As bizarre of a concept as it is, his filmmaking style is infused well to keep the story moving. It’s the same way Raimi was stylistic with “Oz the Great and Powerful”. While THWACIIW is nowhere near as fun as that, it’s still welcoming. It mimics the same atmosphere that Tim Burton creates, but doesn’t get gothic at all.


Blanchett and Black have fun banter. You wouldn’t expect two actors like them to work together, but they keep name-calling each other and it’s fun. They’re funny to watch. You would think that Blanchett would be phoning it in with a film like this, but SHE’S CATE BLANCHETT. SHE NEVER DELIVERS A LAZY PERFORMANCE! She has great chemistry with Black, and Black is still as charming as ever. He’s not all early ‘00s energetic Jack Black. Like in “Goosebumps”, he’s laid back and still you love him. Even the kid, Owen Vaccaro, does a great job in the leading role. He’s experienced as it is considering the fact that he’s done two “Daddy’s Home” movies. The kid delivers a good performance.


As I said, I’m going to go through this incredibly fast. So here are all of my problems with the movie

  • Sunny Suljic (before we see him in Jonah Hill’s “Mid ‘90s” next month) delivers an odd, over-the-top performance. Since this is set in the ‘50s, he looks like a jock from “Grease” in a 10-year-old’s body and he expresses some of the same mannerisms as one too.

  • CGI. Bad. Bad CGI. All of the living visual effects of the household items move too fast as live-action characters move slowly. It is easily distinguishable in the same manner as, say, a Nickelodeon TV show. The Netflix show “A Series of Unfortunate Events” has better CGI and this is an Amblin movie. Amblin!! Spielberg’s company!! AND SPIELBERG JUST DID “READY PLAYER ONE” WHICH HAD THE BEST VISUAL EFFECTS OF THE YEAR!

  • TOO MUCH EXPOSITION. So many scenes are dedicated to deliver unnecessary backstories for characters. They had a great set-up for the antagonist’s backstory, but then it delves into stupidity really fast.

  • The third act reveals why Eli Roth signed on to direct the project. It deals with demonic evil. Speaking of which: THE THIRD ACT IS OUT OF CONTROL AND LOSES INTEGRITY, FOR IT PANDERS AND THE MAGICAL ELEMENTS ARE NONSENSICAL. Magic is supposed to be magic. All of the quote-unquote “magic” here is done willy nilly from reading a book and just saying what you want to happen.

  • It’s boooooooooooring. The story becomes aimless after the first 30 minutes. Some concepts are brought up then immediately dropped about 5-10 minutes after.

  • Jokes that pander. There are a ton of those. Especially with a cat that poops grass.


“The House With a Clock in its Walls” has fun performances, but its loose storytelling and lack of adventure just makes this family film downright:


Rating: 2.5/5 | 53%

2.5 stars

Super Scene: SAX MAN - The Lonely Island (ft. Jack Black)