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The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)

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A young orphan named Lewis Barnavelt aids his magical uncle in locating a clock with the power to bring about the end of the world.

Director:

Eli Roth

Writers:

Eric Kripke (screenplay by), John Bellairs (based on the novel by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Black ... Jonathan Barnavelt
Cate Blanchett ... Florence Zimmerman
Owen Vaccaro ... Lewis Barnavelt
Kyle MacLachlan ... Isaac Izard
Renée Elise Goldsberry ... Selena Izard
Colleen Camp ... Mrs. Hanchett
Sunny Suljic ... Tarby Corrigan
Lorenza Izzo ... Mother
Braxton Bjerken ... Woody Mingo
Vanessa Anne Williams ... Rose Rita Pottinger
Charles Green ... Soda Jerk
De'Jon Watts ... Clark (as DJ Watts)
Aaron Beelner ... Clown Automaton
Joshua Phillips Joshua Phillips ... Clown Automaton
Christian Calloway ... Azazel
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Storyline

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 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 finishes its countdown and ends the world.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You're invited somewhere timeless. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Site

Country:

USA | India | Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 September 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The House with a Clock in Its Walls See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$42,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$26,608,020, 23 September 2018, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$68,443,590, 13 December 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS (DTS: X)| Auro 11.1 | IMAX 6-Track | Dolby Atmos (Dolby Atmos+Vision)| Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The story, based on John Bellairs's novel, was previously made as a television episode of CBS Library (1979). The segment was featured in the episode CBS Library: Once Upon a Midnight Scary (1979). See more »

Goofs

Florence tells Lewis that the Brothers Grimm wrote Grimms' Fairy Tales in the Black Forest which is in Schwarzwald Germany. In reality they wrote the tales in Kassel Germany which at the time of the writing would have been a full day's travel away from the Black Forest. See more »

Quotes

[the clock strikes]
Jonathan Barnavelt: Three gongs... last time it was four. What happens when it gets down to one?
Mrs. Zimmerman: Nothing good, that's for certain.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the animated main-on-end credits roll, the chair chases the griffin topiary with a chainsaw. Then a statement appears: "No chairs or topiary griffins were harmed in the making of this film." See more »


Soundtracks

Hey Lolly Lolly
Written by Jimmie Thomas and Oscar McLollie
Performed by Oscar McLollie & His Honeyjumpers
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from Universal Music Enteprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"House With a Clock In Its Walls": Eli Roth Fantasy Lacks Magic
24 September 2018 | by kevinthecriticSee all my reviews

1.5 out of 5 stars (one of the worst of the year)

Watching "The House With a Clock in its Walls" is like being on a massive sugar high: It's way too fast, very confusing, and eventually causes you as a viewer to crash and fight falling asleep. Why horror director Eli Roth and Supernatural creator Eric Kripke were chosen to helm this project is a mystery given that neither are known for family entertainment, and it really shows here. Add a completely miscast Jack Black, underused Cate Blanchett, and a child actor with little screen presence, and you have one of the dullest fantasies of the year, for adults anyway. The kids in my audience laughed a lot, so I'm sure this film will be a hit at 12-year-old slumber parties on dark stormy nights, if that's any consolation.

Following his parents' death, Lewis (Owen Vaccaro, of the tedious Daddy's Home franchise) is sent to live with his quirky and mysterious Uncle Jonathan (a thoroughly annoying and out-of-place Jack Black) in his creepy old mansion. Jonathan basically shirks his responsibilities as a guardian, except for one rule: Don't open the ominous cabinet in the house's center, or bad things will come. Oooooo.

As always in these creepy haunted location movies, Lewis hears a ticking sound in the wall one night, only to see Jonathan sneaking around like a cat-burglar. After discussing this with a kid at school, Lewis confronts Jonathan, and the man reveals himself and deadpan neighbor Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett trying her hardest to save the picture) are a warlock and witch, respectively. They start training Lewis in magic as he tries to investigate the secret behind the ticking in the wall, which leads to yet another fantasy bad guy with a take-over-the-world scheme (Played with a modicum of energy by 90's icon Kyle MacLachlan).

"The House With a Clock in its Walls" has absolutely no idea what it is or who it's aimed at. Black is in full man-child mode here, making funny faces to make kids laugh, but a blasé story, lack of momentum, and later scary images make it questionable for younger kids. 12-and-ups should be safe, but any younger may have nightmares. Again, the kids in my screening laughed a ton, and I probably would have liked this too in my younger years, but I feel the pain of their parents who must pay for them to see it and watch good actors like Black and Blanchett act like one-dimensional cartoons. Director Roth is expectedly more comfortable in the horror scenes than the comedic ones, but I found much of the humor flat. At least I earned a free popcorn the next time I go to the theater and heard a comparably interesting podcast about the proper temperature of wine on the ride back home.

"The House With a Clock in Its Walls" is a boring, drawn-out fantasy with mostly uninteresting direction, a rushed script, and unlikable characters that had me in an epic battle to avoid sleeping in my comfy seat. As with "The Nun", I must ask why this isn't an October release. Its creepy visuals and tone are tailor-made for tweens on a stormy night, but adults will likely be bored by this. At one point, a character says to young Lewis, "It's a total waste of time". I couldn't agree more, young sir. Skip it.

Rated PG for Thematic Elements Including Sorcery (seriously?), Some Action, Scary Images, Rude Humor, And Language


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