The House with a Clock in Its Walls

  • 29 Sep - 05 Oct, 2018
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

Children fantasy, especially of the wizarding kind, is a genre that seems a little deflated post Harry Potter era. The House with a Clock in Its Walls – a story about magic, spells, witch and wizards –, though, is trying to capitalize on the genre. Even when the effort pales when compared to the Potter world, the task at hand is still very respectable.

Adapted from the late John Bellairs book of the same name, published in 1973, the series of adventures focuses on the boy protagonist, Lewis Barnavelt. The setting is 1955, and Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), a recently orphaned young boy of ten, is invited to live with his estranged uncle, Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black), in a small sleepy town. Jonathan is a good warlock, who shares a home with a good witch named Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett). Their house is creepy and dark, with interiors and exterior that would have suited the Addams Family (Google it, if you don’t know what that is).

Lewis has a strong will to stick to his pursuits: he has love for new words, that why he carries a heavy dictionary around, and when he finds out about magic he begs his uncle for an apprenticeship.

With a young warlock in training, Jonathan and Florence are worried about a clock that is hidden in the house by their former friend named Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan). Isaac, who is now dead, is a bad warlock who had planted a doomsday clock somewhere in the house that is ticking away till the magical moment is right.

Directed by Eli Roth, who has also brought a remake of the Death Wish this year (and is formerly famous for his gory horrors like Hostel and The Green Inferno), does an adequate job in making a very children-friendly fodder – even when the first three quarters of the movie is awkward and clumsy in establishing the world of 50s and the quirky characters.

The cast makes do with what they have. Black does not have many moment to shine, however Blanchett gets one scene talking of her past and steals the whole show. The real hero of the movie, though, is the climax. While far from original, it has spunk and helps us recover from blandness of the movie. The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a pleasant addition to weekend family friendly list of movies.•