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The House with a Clock in Its Walls

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India, Canada, United States · 2018
Rated PG · 1h 46m
Director Eli Roth
Starring Owen Vaccaro, Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan
Genre Fantasy, Family

When ten-year-old Lewis is suddenly orphaned, he is sent to live with his Uncle Jonathan in a creaky old mansion with a mysterious ticking noise that emanates from the walls. Upon the discovery that his uncle is a warlock, Lewis begins learning magic. Things quickly escalate when he rebelliously resurrects an evil warlock...Now he must find the secret of the house and save the world from destruction.

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What are critics saying?


Entertainment Weekly by Chris Nashawaty

Black, no surprise, steals the show, manically hamming it up like Harry Houdini on laughing gas, while Roth tries to keep the breakneck pace of his phantasmagoria going. As someone who was growing bored with Roth’s gory shockfests, I say: “Welcome to the kiddie table, Eli.”


Empire by Dan Jolin

For all the gags flying around, and all the friendly insults batted between Blanchett and Black, the script lacks the sparkle and polish of many of the classic Amblins it so enthusiastically emulates.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is at its best when it foregrounds the adults and gives Black and Blanchett ample time to bicker with one another.


ScreenCrush by E. Oliver Whitney

I’ve never enjoyed any of Roth’s grisly R-rated movies, but at least those had a distinct vision and style. If only his kid-friendly haunted house movie was as original, it could’ve been a surprising treat.


The Hollywood Reporter by Harry Windsor

As a family film in that vein it largely succeeds, buoyed by Black’s typical exuberance, Blanchett’s typical slyness and a richly evocative rendering of a Rockwellian suburb sprinkled with goofer dust. Less interesting, as is the way with many audience-avatar YA protagonists (sorry, Harry), is the main character, and Vaccaro’s rather hyper-articulated performance doesn’t help.


The Associated Press by Mark Kennedy

The film somehow manages its own witchcraft in finding the perfect un-sweet spot — it’s too scary for little kids, not scary enough for older ones, not funny or clever enough for their parents, and too redundant for everyone. Poof! Watch the audience disappear.


Screen International by Nikki Baughan

Despite a fantastical premise and some truly eye-popping effects, The House With A Clock In Its Walls suffers from post-Potter fatigue; there’s simply nothing here, visual or thematic, that hasn’t been done before.


Variety by Peter Debruge

While not terribly original, it would be fair to call the movie inventive, like one of those eccentrics who’s constantly pestering the patent office with what he thinks are fresh ideas, only to discover that someone else got there first.


TheWrap by William Bibbiani

The House With a Clock in Its Walls is easily Eli Roth’s best motion picture, and that’s not an attempt to damn the film with faint praise. It’s a spooky and amusing piece of family-friendly Halloween cinema, sharply produced and mostly effective, told with skill and panache.

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