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article imageReview: ‘The House with a Clock’ will start new generation of horror fans Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 22, 2018 in Entertainment
‘The House with a Clock in its Walls’ is a spine-tingling, magical fantasy that allows a strange boy to find his place in the world.
Some of the key elements of young adult fiction is the adolescent protagonist makes mistakes that can be attributed to their immaturity, while also finding the strength to triumph over whatever villain or personal obstacle is at the tale’s centre. This formula is so generic, it allows for any number of narratives in any number of genres, meaning it never gets old because you never have to tell, read or watch the exact same story twice. Thus, even though The House with a Clock in its Walls features some aspects seen in other tales, it is its own picture.
Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) was recently orphaned after a terrible accident and his only remaining relative is an eccentric uncle in Michigan. Upon arriving, the boy is greeted by his Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) who picks him up at the bus station wearing a kimono and driving a car that’s about ready to fall apart. At his enormous new home, he also meets Florence (Cate Blanchett), Jonathan’s purple-obsessed best friend and next-door neighbour. Starting a new school and trying to make new friends are difficult, but Jonathan’s late-night wanderings with an axe are more disconcerting. It turns out the house belonged to a powerful and now deceased warlock that hid a clock in the mansion’s walls, which Jonathan and Florence — themselves magic practitioners — must stop before it counts down to whatever doomsday he had planned.
The story of an orphan who learns to practice magic will now and possibly forever conjure one tale to everyone’s mind… but Harry Potter wasn’t even the only wizard in his own narrative. Lewis, who is already a bit weird, sees magic as a way to connect to his uncle and perhaps impress some of his schoolmates, though the latter proves to be entirely disastrous. Assigned multiple volumes of history and spells, Lewis starts his education and proves to be somewhat of a natural. His levitation and transmogrification incantations are a little buggy, but soon he’s getting ready in the morning and taking restrained revenge on school bullies with ease. However, Lewis thinks he’s only having fun rather than learning potentially lifesaving skills since Jonathan and Florence shield him from the imminent danger descending upon the house.
As is usually the case, some kids are really mean so it’s important to choose one’s friend’s carefully — a lesson some need to learn the hard way. Moreover, certain rules are made for the sake of the world’s preservation and shouldn’t be broken. The consequences of Lewis’ disobedience are both creepy and humorous as an attic of discarded toy figures comes to life and Jack-o-lanterns adopt the role of vicious, spitting guard dogs. Conversely, since the furniture, namely an old chair and knight’s armour, are loyal to Jonathan, they lie in sullen ruin and unable to help their master.
The banter between Jonathan and Florence is unexpectedly hilarious. They constantly ridicule each other, exchanging creative insults regularly, which always end in a smile, are never said with malice and is why it’s so easy to laugh alongside them. Black and Blanchett’s chemistry is absolutely marvelous as their platonic, old married couple routine repeatedly takes centre stage then returns to the background of the scene at hand. Black is beginning to make these PG comedies his bread and butter, but seeing Blanchett in these more playful roles is an absolute treat.
Director Eli Roth is better known for his gory, torture-porn pictures, but with this movie he demonstrates he can pull it back for a thrilling, family-friendly fantasy. Instead of relying on blood and violence, he brings this adaptation to life with ominous shadows, sneaky villains and animated objects that provide audiences with a few chills.
Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett and Owen Vaccaro
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