Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro
Release Date: December 18, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches. Based on the beloved children’s classic book.
Based on the beloved children’s book, ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ tells the story of the young, shy and brilliant Lewis (Vaccaro) who with nowhere else to turn, goes off to live with his peculiar uncle (Black) in his impressive home. With clocks littering the mansion and peculiar events constantly unfolding, Lewis soon uncovers a whole new world filled with magic, wonder and terror that he never knew existed. Guided by his warlock uncle’s tutelage and beginning to learn the tricks of the trade so to speak, things take a terrifying turn when an evil force which had remained dormant for many years threatens Lewis’ existence and everything he cares for, forcing him to put his potential powers to the test before it’s truly too late.
Directed by Eli Roth (Hostel, The Green Inferno) from a screenplay by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural, Timeless) which was based upon the novel by John Bellairs respectively, Roth does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ competently guiding along all of the magical fun and excitement. The film also features a relatively well selected cast with some familiar faces and includes Jack Black (Goosebumps), Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok), Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home), Renée Elise Goldsberry (TV’s The Good Wife), Sunny Suljic (Mid90’s), Lorenza Izzo (The Green Inferno) and Kyle MacLachlan (TV’s Twin Peaks) along with more, the majority offering quite solid performances in each of their respective roles for the most part.
‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ delivers a magnificent, somewhat creepy and magic-infused good time with plenty of heart and excitement to spare. It’s a heartfelt adventure with its share of scares and tons of magic-related fun around each mysterious turn that should have no trouble keeping you glued to the screen from start to finish. The film is certainly nothing like the often unnerving and gory horror flicks Eli Roth is best known for which should come as no surprise considering its obvious kid-geared approach, yet even so parents of younger children may want to exercise some caution with ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ just to be safe. There’s no questionable violence, gore or actual bloodshed by any means, yet there are definitely a good few scenes and images that many younger viewers might be somewhat bothered by or even find downright terrifying. Director Eli Roth does a great job with this lighter fare, smoothly guiding along the magic-filled adventure and proving that his talents as a filmmaker are by no means limited to the gory horror outings most connect his name with. I would definitely encourage anyone that’s already even mildly intrigued by this one to try and make a point of giving ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ a whirl whenever you have the opportunity. It’s a creative, amusing and thoroughly enjoyable ride for the whole family (or at least most of it) that’s well worth taking.
Overall, ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ is an incredibly entertaining and magic-filled adventure for the family .Serving up plenty of creepy moments and magical excitement every step of the way, it should have no trouble keeping you consistently enthralled throughout its duration, while also likely making a good candidate for repeat viewings. ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ is definitely highly recommended, especially for fans of filmmaker Eli Roth and for those who appreciate a (mostly) family friendly adventure that still has its share of danger and excitement. Some parents may want to check it out prior to letting the real young kids view the film just to be safe though as there are some moments and images that could easily serve as nightmare fuel.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a clean, detailed and vibrantly colored presentation from start to finish, with no noticeable faults or problems to be uncovered throughout. It holds up impressively even during the numerous darkly lit and/or fast moving and heavily populated moments, never allowing anything on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation that should easily please fans of the film and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD presentation. This multichannel soundtrack contributes plenty of extra fun to the overall viewing experience and offers a crisp, clean and hard hitting audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes full advantage of all seven available channels, sending ticking, magic and action elements along with more regularly zipping throughout the various speakers, and never conflicting with any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a spectacular Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that sounds magnificent every step of the way and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The House with a Clock in Its Walls’ includes a healthy collection of bonus content that fans of the film young and old should both appreciate. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Eli Roth and Actor Jack Black’, in addition to a number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the movie (running approximately 9 minutes in length altogether), as well as an ‘Alternate Opening’ (running approximately 4 minutes) and an ‘Alternate Ending’ (approximately 90 seconds), all of which also feature optional commentary by Eli Roth and Jack Black. We are also treated to a ‘Gag Reel’ (approximately 3 minutes) and a bunch of various Behind the Scenes Featurettes, fun videos and more including: ‘Warlocks and Witches’ (approximately 10 minutes in total), ‘Movie Magic’ (10 minutes), ‘Tick Tock: Bringing the Book to Life’ (3 minutes), ‘Eli Roth: Director’s Journals’ (7 minutes), ‘Owen Goes Behind the Scenes’ (4 minutes), ‘Theme Song Challenge’ (3 minutes), ‘Do You Know Jack Black?’ (4 minutes), plus ‘Abracadabra!’ (1 minute), ‘Jack Black’s Greatest Fear’ (1 minute) and ‘The Mighty Wurlitzer’ (2 minutes).