The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018) Poster

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8/10
Better handled than expected
jwwalrath-227-8548722 September 2018
I'll be honest, I was a little worried about this considering that: a) This is the first children's film from torture porn horror director Eli Roth not to mention the first time he's helmed a film with an attempted big visual flair. b) The film is more humorous than the book. I was afraid it might be too hard to be Goosebumps. Luckily, both my fears were abated.

Jack Black and Cate Blanchett have excellent chemistry together. They're both quite humorous, but they also nail the characters' more serious moments. It's weird that a trifecta of children's/family films has produced some of Jack Black's best roles. Although, you feel a bit more of the Jack Black personality here than in his other two roles, he does manifest the character of Uncle Jonathan, the fun uncle who also has a secret undertaken. Overall, all the characters are really well-fleshed out here.

Visually the film looks great from the 50s' setting to the entire look of the lavish house from the title, especially the scary visuals. Really, they rank with the likes of Tim Burton or Krampus.

The film knows when to have fun, but it knows when to bring on the scares. As a child I preferred the original book and the other works of John Bellairs over Goosebumps, because the horror was played more directly and seriously, and this movie understands that. Cautious parents be aware that this is as scary as a PG movie can get. Well, maybe not as much as The Witches, but what is. This is definitely Coraline level.

The only downside is that at a running time of one hour and forty-four minutes, the second act, which is heavy on the character bits, drags a bit. Most of the action doesn't happen till the third act.

Roth surpassed my expectations here, and I hope he gets a chance at adapting the second book in the series.
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6/10
Decent Waste of Time
southdavid19 September 2018
Orphaned and sent to live with his Uncle Johnathan (Jack Black), Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) soon discovers that his Uncle is a Warlock, and his neighbour Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) is a witch. Together the three of them investigate the mansion that their living in - that formally belonged to a powerful and evil Warlock Issac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan), particularly the mysterious ticking that they can hear at night, seemingly coming from within the walls themselves.

Truth be told, I am probably much older than the target audience for this one. The reviews have talked about this being Eli Roth's first family friendly film but there isn't honestly a lot for the parents in the audience to sink their teeth into. The performances are generally OK, although Jack Black does resort to "Jack Black" a few more times than is really necessary. The story is OK, though it ends somewhat abruptly. Occasionally the CGI is a bit of a let-down, but this is the exception rather than the norm, in fact most of the time the film is visually charming..

It is occasionally a little too scary for some of the younger children who might see it, but most would cope without any issues.

The trouble is that it doesn't really add up to very much. You're unlikely to hate it but you probably won't love it either.
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8/10
The Jack Black charm works its magic
ayoreinf21 September 2018
This is a cute fun fantasy comedy, that works because its stars make it work. Like most fantasy movies of late, it's very CGI driven, but since CGI is by now a mere technicality it's not a problem. Not having any real villain, is a problem and Kyle MacLachlan doesn't get any screen time in which to build his character, but it still works, because the leading trio is wonderful. Cate Blanchett, doesn't need my support, her abilities as an actress are long proven, and she is as good as one expect her to be. The kid Owen Vaccaro, has a nerd a dweeb and a dork written all over him. He simply has the look of the ultimate social misfit, he does have a few off moments but they're hardly noticed because the rest of the cast around him covers for him. And then there's Jack Black. I already consider him an extremely underrated actor. He's one of the rare few who can do buffoonish and cute together and make it flow naturally. In my personal book his most endearing quality is his complete lack of respect to his own image.

Without Jack Black, this is a nice but way too preachy movie about growing up with loss, and about outgrowing loss. With him, all the preachiness is gone, you simply can't take it seriously enough to be preached at. The moment you remove the preachiness, all you're left with is fun, and that's what we got here. A fun fantasy comedy with some added value to boot.
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6/10
Decent Adaptation with Hit or Miss Moments
leaugebrett21 September 2018
I was a huge fan of John Bellairs book series growing up, and was excited for a hopefully competent film adaptation. The biggest dissapointment for me was the casting of Owen Vaccaro as Lewis Barnavelt. In the books, he was a well-defined and intelligent protagonist who overcame obstacles via inventiveness. In this film, he's a crybaby with terrible character motivation and a generally useless atmosphere, with Vaccaro giving one of the worst child actor performances I've seen in years (not exaggerating, the "bully" character that we're supposed to hate is a better actor and more likeable than the lead). Jack Black does a good job with the lackluster script and Cate Blanchet's character was probably my favorite in the film. Kyle Maclachlan's brief role is also great, I'm glad he went all out for a relatively unknown movie. The set and costume design is also solid, while the CGI hurts some scenes.

While I'll never watch this movie again, I would recommend it to parents looking for a unique live action kid's film. The House With the Clock in It's Walls could have been a much more memorable film with a different lead actor, or with a script that drew more from the rich source material.
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8/10
fun fullled family movie
stuart-smith72921 September 2018
I probably rate this a little higher than i should as my family and i were the only ones in the imax however i enjoyed it and my two kids loved it.
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9/10
The clock ticking does not spell doom for this movie
PeterWorthers24 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I will admit I have read the book of the same name before I went to see this so I knew what I was getting myself. But as I watched it play out on the screen I realized I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

The plot itself is pretty thin, you will figure it out in a few minutes, its not rocket science; but the movie has everything you need: suspense, mystery, adventure, comedy and some scares thrown in for fun. Its a fun flick to take in which is strange to say considering it is directed by Eli Roth. THAT Eli Roth? Yes, THAT Eli Roth. And he's good, going from hardcore horror to this family fair is extremely impressive.

The actors were on point, Jack Black is funny as he always is (name 1 bad Jack Black movie, I'll wait...no I won't) and is half the hit of the show with the other being Cate Blanchett, who is very lovable in her role. The banter and insults they fling at each other is funny and makes them perfect together.

Add in some magic and witchcraft and a CGI baby body with the adult head of Jack Black on it and BOOM, you have yourself a movie.

A few things did bother me as always:

1. The Kid that played Lewis was ok, his screaming and crying scenes seemed thrown and was really unneeded, it looked extremely forced on his part and made the character seem like a huge wuss.

2.The kid that played Tarby. Oh my god he was TERRIBLE. At one point I wondered if his acting was another scare thrown to get us. NOTHING he did seemed natural, it all looked robotic and sounded like he forgot his lines almost every scene he was in. No emotion, he's a Cylon, mark my words.

3. Sure, point out 'this is my one rule, don't break it' because that ALWAYS works. It would work better if you said 'Open this cabinet and look at the book inside' then the kid wouldn't want to do it because the adult wants them to do it. Problem solved.

4. So the lady across the street can hear him play sax at 3am, what about those who live next door? Or behind his house? No one sees the huge cat bush running around or the pumpkins come alive? No neighborhood watch?

5. So Lewis is so scared of the flying books he falls to the ground and screams like a little girl, yet once they rescue him he has enough courage to grab the plans sitting on the table in the middle of the room?

6. Some of the dialogue didn't seem to fit the scene it was in. Just saved the world and escaped death, "Mrs. Zimmerman, I'm sorry you lost your family." What? Why was that needed? Seemed really silly to me.

7. Lots of back story and explanations were thrown out just toss us into this world. I would love to have discovered more about these characters back stories.

8. Lewis' mom (Also Eli Roths wife) seemed to be trying too hard to be sly or enigmatic that she came across as fake.

9. "Teach me to be a warlock." "No" "Please, please, please." "OK, fine" Wow, way to stick by your guns there Jack.

10. So Lewis is the one who resurrected Isaac but what would they have done if Lewis hadn't been there for them to sucker into doing their dirty work? Seems like their entire plan rested on the hope that an orphaned boy would walk into to their lives.

There were a few more but I won't bore you.

Overall this was a great movie, the plot alone will get you interested and once it does, get ready for a fun ride that doesn't let go until the end.

It's a welcome sight among to many 'meh' movies of late.
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6/10
Good atmosphere, two great actors, but...
info-2079722 September 2018
Sorry to criticize the kid, but the boy can't act and it was painfully distracting. It would also be more interesting if more fun magic tricks were shown...
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7/10
Great fantasy fun for all the family
Fudge-319 September 2018
Young orphan Lewis moves into a creepy house with an uncle he's never known. Uncle Jonathon is relaxed around setting rules for Lewis but why does he keep so many clocks? Why does he carry an axe at night? Mysterious things start to happen and soon the least of Lewis' problems will be fitting in at a new school. Jack Black casts his movie magic over this yarn to bring us another jewel of great family entertainment. The House with a Clock in Its Walls is fun throughout. Cate Blanchett plays the straight-man to Jack's buffoon and the banter between them is superb. Owen Vaccaro does the new boy in school and the eager apprentice really well. The awkward sobbing-over-his-parent's-death scene could have been cut; we didn't need it. I trust we'll see a lot more of Owen, hopefully in the same character too. The story is not going to surprise or shock anyone but it serves well enough as the canvas for some great characters, good CGI and nice action.

Everyone will enjoy this movie, even those who can't sit still for ten minutes.

Originally penned to be released around September 20th the film actually had multiple screenings per day (at least in the UK) on the 15th and 16th. There are twelve books in the Lewis Barnavelt series written between 1973 and 2008. The first three books are the best but all of them are set in the 1950s so if Amblin are going to make any more the producers need to get a move on before Owen grows up.
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10/10
Very entertaining
iluvfly22 September 2018
If you like Harry Potter style movies you will probably like this film. There is plenty of warlocks, witches and magic in this movie. It starts slow and builds up. It has a good plot. I'd say don't bring the youngest kids to see this movie. Target audience are probably 10 and up...
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10/10
The Movie
screed-5514326 September 2018
I absolutely loved this movie it was really interesting and not what I was expecting. I went to watch The House With A Clock In Its Walls with my mate Allan Harris. We both thoroughly enjoyed it I will not tell you the bits I like cuz that would spoil the View of the film for you guys but I will definitely recommend this film to all you viewers out there okay. But just to let you kno that this film is a 12A so its a bit jumpy and scary but not that scary really.
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8/10
Mrs. Zimmerman is my Spirit Animal
melprince23 September 2018
I liked it. Good entertainment Humor Just enough creepiness to keep it interesting, without being too scary Acting was great!
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4/10
Be prepared for your kids to end up in your bed!
ekwood-7702622 September 2018
A friend and I saw this for fun today while our kids were in school. Thank God they weren't with us! While the child in the movie is 10, the scare level is significantly older. Only later did I find out that the director actually intended it to be a "gateway film" into the horror genre for kids. It lived up to it! If mine had seen it I would have them sneaking into our bed for a year, or maybe forever. Parents should know that it is not like Harry Potter. This movie very definitely includes the occult, demons, and creepy dolls that attack people, among other things. If your children are at all sensitive, or for that matter, if you are, give it a miss. As for me, I may or may not be sleeping with a light on tonight and thanking my lucky stars that, as I have boys, I don't have dolls in the house!
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1/10
Not for kids. Horror movie with PG rating - nonsense!
gkryltsov24 September 2018
I am wondering why it was rated PG? With all these demons, necromancy, occult - this is definitely not family-friendly movie ever. What next will be approved for children? The trailer was completely misleading.
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7/10
Worth watching with the family
harryumitchell19 September 2018
I watched this with my mother and my 9yr old daughter and 6ur old boy. We were all engaged, though I think my boy zoned out for a little while. He was probably a little too young for this but overall I enjoyed it! We were fans of goosebumps and this is a good addition to the "spooky films for kids" genre. It's not great but it's definitely entertaining and I think children will enjoy it.
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1/10
Not for kids under 10years old
suelemgisela24 September 2018
This is not a PG movie, this movie contains some material not be suitable for children under 10 years old.
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10/10
JACK BLACK BABY
samueltjacobs22 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
J A C K. B L A C K. B A B Y. J A C K. B L A C K. B A B Y.
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Tame horror, great pumpkins.
jdesando19 September 2018
My knowledge of kids' fantasy horror stories ranges from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Something Wicked This Way Comes to Goosebumps, to Harry Potter, all a bit odd, none too horrible. However, a heavy dose of that eccentric comes with the newest children's fantasy, The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The nerdiest kids should like this film; the normal maybe not so much because it lacks heavy horror!

Young orphan Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) goes to stay with his Uncle, Jonathan (Jack Black) and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchette). So far so good except the adults are witch and warlock and the boy precocious and eccentric. As Jonathan learns the basics of magic (not the benign Harry Potter stuff), he also learns that the dead magician Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) has tricked out his sumptuous Victorian mansion with a doomsday clock, whose discovery now is essential for mankind's survival and whose location must be found.

It is too convoluted a story to recount except that Lewis learns about necromancy and indomitability along with a bushel of new words fitting an emerging intellectual magician, albeit strange to his classmates. Lamentably, most of the horror tropes are broad and tame. A lion defecating on the nearest boy, however, should please the younger audience.

Youngsters may squirm at raising the dead while teens can easily survive that Halloween staple. Adults will be amused although disappointed at how little the comely Blanchette is used and how little humor the too-often serious Black is in a role made to order for his goofiness. Together, however, they are a comedy team worth noting. Good chemistry.

The magic of Harry Potter is not here while some of its charm resides with Lewis and the gifted witch, Mrs. Zimmerman. Along the way the film makes points about the destructiveness of wars and offers oddly funny set pieces such as when, for example, Blanchette head butts a pumpkin.

Audiences will magically or not flock to this unusually low-key horror treat. Just don't think about that lion.
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1/10
Not for young kids
giulianacbraga24 September 2018
I took my eight-year-old daughter and her two friends. All of them were scared the whole time. This movie is definitely not for young kids.
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5/10
Can't Decide What It Wants To Be
majorcbruno1 October 2018
The House with a Clock in Its Walls has two things going for it - Jack Black, who stars in the film, and... Jack Black, who also stars in the film. Normally, any film with both of those qualities would instantly be a favorite of mine. You could count on a totally quirky, crass, and hilarious romp of a movie, with a not-so-insignificant chance of a guitar solo or heavy metal reference thrown in.

However, it seems that just slapping a well known actor onto a film does not a good movie make. Black can't seem to live up to his usual level of zaniness, primarily due to the very poor writing. The dialogue is incredibly inconsistent, and varies wildly in style. You could convince me, without much effort, that it was a collaboration between an HBO drama writer, and a five year old who hasn't gotten past poop jokes yet. One moment you have cutting dialogue about family and loss, really forcing the characters to deal with their flaws, and the next you have a magical garden statue firing wads of poo at an unsuspecting Lewis. Even with good casting you can't work around that, and frequently the adult characters in the film sound like caricatures of people, delivering bizarrely wooden lines that feel very out of place.

Not only is the writing all over the place, but so is the subject matter. You have magic and wizardry on the one hand, schoolyard drama on the other, and then a bizarre dive into necromancy, Satyrs, and all manner of occult influences. The film can't make up its mind on what kind of story it wants to tell, or who the story is for.

The oscillation between these different tones creates a truly jarring experience watching the film. Parts of it are done well - the more serious dramatic moments actually hit home quite well - but they are so fleeting that they lose their impact. This makes the immature and childish jokes and one liners even more stale and out of place than they already are.

The actual story of the film is easily its biggest strength. A tale of mystery and magic, with some creative ideas and interesting characters. It follows the story of Lewis, who moves in with an Uncle he soon learns is magical. Lewis gets swept into a world of warlocks and witches, a world that holds both wonderous sights and dark secrets alike. Certainly a promising start. There are even some surprising twists here and there. The potential is absolutely there for a fun and creative adventure that the whole family could enjoy, but that potential is squandered by poor execution, inconsistent writing, and an inability for the film to just make up its mind. The House with a Clock in Its Walls may be confused, but I'm not. I wouldn't recommend seeing this one.
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7/10
A Good Film but Not Great
conradclub21 September 2018
Good cast, good special effects & interesting storyline, yet it lacked story depth & attention to story details. If had been done right, the story could have been better than mediocre. First and foremost this story is about 3 people in search for love, family and finding where one belongs. The screenplay failed to show hints of romantic love between Jack Black & Cate Blanchett's characters. Jack Black showed little attachment to the Boy which could have been demonstrated by hands on magical instruction by Black to the Boy. Thirdly, the movie could have spent a scene or two with the "true friend" with the boy. Finally, I thought the back story of Black's nemesis was clumsily done. It seemed to me that this movie was half baked instead of being nurtured into a mature film that could have been fully entertaining to kids and adults. Sorry to say, but I give this film a 6.5 to 7.
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7/10
An OK film
richardmnorton24 September 2018
The main reason to see this movie is Jack Black. There is no actor or comedian who can do what he does. The rest of the movie isn't bad, it just isn't great. It's a good family film, just don't have your expectations too high.
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2/10
Waste of time and money
lazarust22 September 2018
Slow slow plot. Spent the entire time looking at my watch begging it to end and it is terrifying for even pre teens.
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4/10
Disappointing
burgercolleen26 September 2018
I was very excited to see this movie as I'm a fan of fantasy films, plus casting Jack Black and Cate Blanchett was icing on the cake. However, the movie lacked excitement. There were a lot of drawn out boring segments where I felt myself closing my eyes and drifting off a bit and that's rare for me during a movie. The previews made it look like it was going to be creatively exciting, but all the good parts were in the trailer. Since going to the movies these days can be costly, I say don't bother wasting your money.
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1/10
Tick tock - this movie died.
amason-622 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I honestly don't understand how people can call this great family entertainment. I'm not even sure how this movie got a PG rating. It is definitely NOT for kids! Unless you consider shape shifting witches, warlocks, a demon, a blood spell that brings the dead back to life, murderous vomiting jack-o- lanterns, and creepy dolls that attack, well you get the picture, not good material for kids. I'm just sorry I didn't check this movie out more thoroughly because I could have saved my time and money. But I figured PG rating - what could be wrong? The themes were way more for adults than children, and what little humor there was missed the mark. I'm just sorry that I didn't walk out when I wanted to but I kept thinking the movie could somehow redeem itself.

Save your time, your money, and your kids brains - don't get sucked in by this trash.
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1/10
Not for Children
jdbwharton24 September 2018
Masking as a children's story but really a dark evil story. Not for children. Boring and awful dark content.
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