If executed properly, The House with A Clock in Its Walls could have possibly become a surprise hit. It has just about everything you need to accomplish that, but it wasn’t able to utilize all of its positive attributes in the way it needed to. This could be contributed to a lot of things, but it seems like experience played a major factor in limiting its potential.
The movie based on John Bellairs’ children’s classic focuses on Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), a recently orphaned ten year-old who comes to live with his uncle (Jack Black) in a creaky old house filled with mystery. With no television and few options for fun, things appear to be rather boring on the surface for the kid in his new home. Life also seems to be difficult when it comes to making friends in his new town. Things look as if it will be hard for the young man, but a secret world of warlocks and witches emerge and introduce him to a new life of endless possibilities.
The first major issue with this movie is that it lags a bit at certain periods. It gets to the point where you feel the drag and just hope they just get on with everything. Some of it comes from the scenes that are included to help fill us in on the backstory, but these slow the movie down more than they should and will sometimes take away the sense of adventure that reveals itself throughout.
One reason that this happens is because they’re using tons of dialogue to explain things to us. In a sense, it just takes you out of what’s going on. You have to remember that this is ultimately a picture for kids, so slowing it down just hurts it even more when viewing it from that perspective. With that in mind, it was important to keep things moving instead of “hitting the pause” button whenever they needed to include additional details.
The personalities that the characters bring show you that they were at least aware that this was supposed to be a faster paced movie that was geared toward children. This aspect brings life to certain parts of this movie and shows why this could have been successful. It also helps in getting some of the jokes to work at times. Then again, there are other instances where the jokes just couldn’t be saved by anything except better writing.
A lot of what stops The House with A Clock in Its Walls comes from Eli Roth making this kind of movie for the first time. Anyone that knows his history understands that he’s usually making movies geared toward adults. Just by watching this, you would be able to tell that’s probably the case for whoever was behind the camera. With more experience, I’m sure he could have been able to fix the issues here. He would just need to develop his craft in this specific genre.
Director: Eli Roth
Film Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: September 21, 2018
Distributor: Universal Pictures
- Score - 5/105/10