Nerdlocker Movie Review: The House with a Clock in Its Walls


Harking back to a time of archeologists raiding lost arks and Extraterrestrials winning the hearts of humans everywhere, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a lover letter to the eighties. This was a time when movies that even with a target audience of children still managed a large amount of bravery. The creators of these classics were aware that, despite a certain subject being of a darker nature, kids were more resilient and intrepid than previously given the chance to showcase. The House with a Clock (shorthand title) revives the fearlessness of that decade with a scary, comedic adventure for kids and adults alike.

While some of the scenes are quite spooky, dare I even say visually disturbing, this is a creepy escapade that can be endured and triumphed over together as a family. I wouldn’t exactly leave the children alone in a room with this playing but I believe this could be a fun thrill for them to experience at the side of their parents. In case things get a bit too intense they have their favorite place to hide their little faces until it’s all clear. I imagine a lot of nervous giggling as they brave the scarier moments and hold onto their mom or dad in the most intense scenes. This should be a collective effort between kids 10+ and their parents.

Eli Roth’s past efforts have been wanting at best and downright abysmal with certain films. When your call to fame is Hostel and a fandom of Cannibal Holocaust I think one should re-evaluate any future choices. I can’t outright say that after a single project things are turning around for him but this isn’t a bad start in the right direction.

The idea here is to create of film of fun, scary thrills but where it really shines is when it gives time for the characters to establish themselves. The visual thrills are aplenty being funny, odd, frightening and always engaging but they should and do come as a supporting act. Acting as that support, these visuals raise the kooky performances of the cast even higher. Jack Black is as idiosyncratic as ever leading a small but equally eccentric cast featuring Owen Vaccaro as the nephew and promising future warlock. At their side as mother figure and eternal guardian, Cate Blanchett rounds out this trio of the bizarre and charming making the argument that all families are not alike but no less loving and protective.

With support from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Roth has a created a safe venture for families to experience the scarier side of the fantasy genre with no less effort when trying to create a unique realm of loving uncle warlocks and neighborly witches. It’s about fantasy meeting horror with an emphasis on family dynamics and what it means to be there for the ones we love.

A character that cannot be overlooked is the house itself. It is as alive as Jack Black and company as they navigate the various nooks and crannies of such a lively sanctuary. Make no mistake, the house isn’t haunted, it’s alive with feelings and motivations and sometimes that can make things a bit precarious and at times downright hilarious.

While not perfect by any means, its focal points of family and fantastical horror are strongly crafted and wonderfully executed. This is a fun attempt at scary fun for all involved and I can say for the braver children, it is an adventure that will not be forgotten any time soon. Do you have what it takes to confront the mysteries of The House with a Clock in Its Walls? Goodluck… muahahaha!!!!

Rated PG For: thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language
Runtime: 104 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Sunny Suljic
Directed By: Eli Roth

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 4.5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls

Buy to Own: Yes

Check out the trailer below:

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Chase Gifford

"Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world"-Jean-Luc Godard