25 September 2023

The House with a Clock in its Walls

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Reviewed by Victor Rebikoff.

Director: Eli Roth, Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures, PG 105 Minutes.

One is always sure of enjoying a film that features the fabulous comedic actor Jack Black (‘Goosebumps’) and this is certainly the case in this fun-filled family fantasy from horror director Eli Roth following his deadly ‘Death Wish’ remake.

Black’s latest release sees him playing Jonathan Barnavelt, a friendly warlock to whom is sent his 10-year-old nephew Lewis (Owen Vaccaro –‘Daddy’s Home 2’) following his parents’ car crash.

Arriving at the gothic-like mansion, Lewis meets Jonathan’s neighbour and close companion Florence Zimmerman (Aussie Cate Blanchett –‘Ocean’s Eight’), a powerful witch, before learning of the house’s ticking clock in its walls that consumes his uncle’s time each evening.

When his uncle agrees to teach him some magical tricks, Lewis is warned never to open a locked cabinet that leads to the crypt of the house’s previous owner, the evil wizard Isaac Izard (Kyle Maclachlan – TV’s Twin Peaks’).

Unfortunately for Lewis he has unwittingly resurrected Izard from the dead after earlier planting a doomsday device within a house clock in its walls which Izard and his spiteful wife Selena (Renee Elise Goldsberry –‘Sisters’) intend to discharge.

With Izard and Selena now back together it becomes a race against time as Jonathan, Florence and Lewis must use all their magical powers to prevent the ensuing destruction that will reverse time back to the beginning.

Despite making mainly horror movies, Roth has this time departed from his usual genre to direct an entertaining film that most family members will enjoy, adding a number of scary scenes such as the attack of the Halloween pumpkins.

There is no denying the chemistry between Black as the amiable warlock Jonathan, and Blanchett as the formidable witch Florence, with each of their performances brilliantly complementing each other not to mention Vaccaro’s portrayal as Lewis.

As ‘The House with a Clock in its Walls’ is based on John Bellairs’ best-selling gothic children’s books it is hoped that the next in the series will see a return of both Black and Blanchett.

Vic’s Verdict: 3 ½ Stars

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