Skip to main content

"The House with a Clock in Its Walls" Movie Review

Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.


The House with a Clock in Its Walls is based on the 1973 young adult novel of the same name. While it does deliver fun for all ages, some moments may be a little too scary for younger viewers and other moments may be a little too ridiculous for older viewers. As the old saying goes, 'You can't please everybody'.

The story follows 10-year-old Lewis, a boy who just lost his parents in a car accident. He is sent to live with his uncle Jonathan who is secretly a warlock. His housemate Florence is also a powerful witch, but her powers have been affected by a tremendous heartbreak. After a powerful warlock is brought back to life, humanity itself is threatened and it's up to Lewis, Jonathan, and Florence to stop him.

I realize the book was written in 1973 but I still couldn't help but draw parallels with other young adult stories such as Harry Potter and Goosebumps. House combined magic and horror to make a very good and entertaining story that the whole family can enjoy. There were some moments that may be a bit too scary for younger viewers, which is where I draw the parallel to Goosebumps. Both of these book series were written for young readers and yet there's some pretty unnerving things that even adults might find to be creepy. From living mannequins to evil pumpkins, House has it all. There was a moment close to the end that may be a bit ridiculous for older viewers. I don't want to spoil anything but trust me, you'll know it when you see it. It reminded me of the horrible opening to Central Intelligence with fake-fat-Dwayne-Johnson.

You couldn't ask for a better team-up than this: director Eli Roth, known for adult horror films such as Hostel and Cabin Fever and, more recently, Death Wish; writer Eric Kripke, widely known for creating and occasionally writing for the show Supernatural; the humorous and kind-hearted Jack Black; and finally Cate Blanchett, an undeniable powerhouse who has proven she can dominate literally any genre.

The story itself was brilliant and I'd love to read the books to see what the original material was like. The problem was with the screenplay. I felt that the film dragged in certain places, certainly a testament to Kripke's ability to keep Supernatural going for 14 years. Other than that, I was rather impressed. Director Eli Roth was able to tone down the scary without compromising the creepy feel. He was also able to keep it family friendly and fun without making it silly or uninteresting. It takes a real talent to pull that off. The chemistry among the actors was obvious, Jack Black and Cate Blanchett playing off one another as if they've known each other all their lives. Owen Vaccaro overacted in certain places but this is the first time he's been the center of attention in a film. He has a little bit of learning and practice ahead of him but he could be a great actor someday.

In conclusion, I recommend seeing the film. It has a good story, some truly gripping moments, a lot of thrills and chills, and a ton of heart. I give the film a 3 out of 4.

© 2018 Nathan Jasper