The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018)


Critic Consensus: An entertaining PG detour for gore maestro Eli Roth, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a family-friendly blend of humor and horror with an infectious sense of fun.


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In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award (R) winner Cate Blanchett star in THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town's sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.

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Critic Reviews for The House with a Clock in Its Walls

All Critics (183) | Top Critics (24)

It's too bad this film wasn't effective enough to present that message of indomitability in a stronger, more engaging way, because kids need it now more than ever.

Oct 18, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

A fantastical adventure, dandy ode to weirdos, and accessible anti-war allegory for all ages, especially 10-year-old boys.

Sep 21, 2018 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

It runs out of steam at about the midway point and falls victim to clumsy, overcooked plotting. It's fun for a while, until it becomes more trick than treat.

Sep 21, 2018 | Rating: C | Full Review…

The short-term excitement of jump-scares and readily accessible spells are a poor trade-off for the steadily deepening mysteries and fears that have made Bellairs' book such an enduring classic.

Sep 20, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The House With a Clock in its Walls is a bullseye, perfectly balanced between funny and scary.

Sep 20, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Despite its special effects and two proven stars, "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" never manages to create the magic we keep hoping will materialize.

Sep 20, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Kids will be traumatized and have nightmares for the rest of their lives after watching this horror movie for children, while older viewers are likely to find this an amusing (if harmless) dark fable that benefits from a nice production design and some good performances.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


Who could have guessed that splatterhouse horror director Eli Roth (Hostel, The Green Inferno) was the right candidate to helm a children's movie that hearkens back to the 90s era of Disney Channel? The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a whimsical and enjoyable family movie that is definitely made primarily for those under the age of twelve. It features a young boy (Owen Vaccaro) going to live with his uncle (Jack Black) who is a warlock and where the neighbor (Cate Blanchett) is a witch. He learns magic, self-confidence, and the legend of the hidden clock that may or may not trigger a doomsday. The 1950s house itself and its magical elements is practically another character in the movie and there's a cheerful sense of discovery throughout, with a dog-like armchair, a topiary griffin, and a stained glass window that keeps changing. The school scenes could have been trimmed entirely, especially when you consider our main kid had enough motivation to try and bring his departed mom back to life. He didn't need to impress a bully at school because he wanted a friend. Black (Jumanji 2) is charming as ever and a natural with children. The visuals are colorful and fun. The signature weird and icky details Roth adds made me smile, like pumpkins that vomit pumpkin guts as a weapon. Kyle Maclachlin (TV's Twin Peaks) plays an evil wizard who wants to end the world after seeing the horrors of the Holocaust. That's a dark implication for a "children's movie," and I appreciate that the film allows for the existence of darkness, which also includes unvarnished appearances of the occult and a red-eyed demon. How about that? The House with a Clock in Its Walls is an entertaining fantasy adventure for families whose kids like to tip-toe into spooky material but aren't quite ready yet for the harder edged PG-13 scares. Nate's Grade: B

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

With the atmosphere of classic Amblin features, The House with a Clock in its Walls is simultaneously not as bad as it could have been and also not nearly as magical as it suggests. Hampered with far too many plot holes, even for a kids film, and plot points telgraphed far too predictably in advance, the films mysteries that compose the first half, reveal themselves all too awkwardly in clunky expositional monologues, albeit well delivered ones by Cate Blanchett and Jack Black. There's some nice old-fashioned Halloween fun to be had, but the sense of joy is missing, and the frights aren't daring enough. Yes, I recognize this is a kids film, but 2015's Goosebumps nicely balanced the horror with the family friendly tone, while the choppily edited House, can't find the right tone. Still, it will undeniably get the family in the Halloween spirit. Rating: 55

Bradley J
Bradley J

Super Reviewer

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