The House With a Clock in Its Walls will enchant audience members with a magical storyline.

Adapted from John Bellairs’ 1973 young adult book, this movie brings to life the whimsical adventures of a young boy named Lewis (Owen Vaccaro).

Lewis, suddenly orphaned when his parents are killed in a car accident, moves in with his eccentric Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black). Jonathan lives in a gothic style Victorian home, the perfect setting for spooky adventures and mysterious happenings. Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), a neighbor, spends a good deal of time at the house too.

Soon after settling into his new residence, Lewis discovers there is more going on than meets the eye.


Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman happen to be a warlock and witch searching for a hidden clock hidden within the “haunted” home’s walls. (Hence the title of the movie.)

The mystery revolves on the previous owners of the home, evil warlock Isaac Izard and his wife Selena. Both of whom died/disappeared a year earlier while creating a powerful clock full of dark magic. Lewis, Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman must stop the ticking noise before the evil magic of Izard erases history. Along the way to solving the mystery, Lewis faces challenges, acquires bravery, deals with bullies and learns the power of friendship. 

At moments, there is too much going on, and the main storyline/mystery of the clock fall wayside to Lewis’ self discovery, making the mystery of the clock hidden inside the house feel like an afterthought. More refining of the script would have helped focus the story and keep audience members engaged.

Shockingly, this movie was directed by Eli Roth — famous for his horror films like Cabin Fever.

The House With a Clock in Its Walls stands in stark contrast to his other R-rated films. In fact, this is Roth’s first PG movie directed toward a family friendly audience.

Jokes cracked appeal to a wide spectrum of audience members, young and old. Black and Blanchett’s characters predominately elicit laughs with clever banter and a slew of one-liners. For Black, this role feels much more toned down from his previous comedy roles.

Although parts of the storyline fall a bit flat and the mystery of the clock melts into the background, The House With a Clock in Its Walls provides great family entertainment for a wide range of people. Overall a wonderful, fantastical mystery for children.

The film is set to premiere September 21.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

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