SOURCE: UNIVERSAL STUDIOS
By ALEX CASTRO
Tick tock, time is up for The House With a Clock in Its Walls.
Released on Sept. 21, The House With a Clock in Its Walls is directed by the renowned horror movie producer Eli Roth and based on the best selling book series by John Bellairs.
The film follows newly-orphaned Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), as he is sent to live with his Uncle Johnathan (Jack Black). Along the way, he meets the kind woman next door, Mrs. Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett). To Lewis’s surprise, Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman turn out to be a witch and warlock intent on saving the world from a magical clock. Lewis is then sucked into a world of witchcraft and wizardry.
Overall, due to the thin plotline, tragic acting and unremarkable scares, The House With A Clock In its Walls falls short of the bar it set for itself.
In the original books, Lewis is a brave and determined hero who uses his wits and intelligence to escape trouble and thwart evil. However, the producers turn Lewis into a cowering cry baby who cries whenever he is sad or upset. He appears to be throwing a tantrum rather than being sad. As a result, Lewis quietly fades into the background as the audience focuses on the more interesting characters. In the end, Owen Vaccaro simply fails at executing Lewis’s ingenuity and cunning, reducing him down to a supporting character rather than the bold hero.
Moreover, at one point in the film, Lewis is bullied. He meets someone who both emotionally and physically hurts him at school. This is meant to draw pity from the viewers and allow the audience to empathize with him. However, all it really does is add another event that exacerbates Lewis’s cowardly persona. It is also incredibly unrealistic that a child capable of lifting large objects with his mind is reduced to crying on the floor because he got shoved into a wall.
Furthermore, Lewis’s magic seems to be just another plot device. The audience receives a montage of him improving, leading viewers to believe he will have a showdown with Isaac Izard, an evil mage. Izard proceeds to throw them out of the house. During the counterattack, Lewis contributes nothing until both Mrs. Zimmerman and Uncle Jonathan are incapacitated and only then remembers that he can do magic when in imminent danger. In the end, he defeats the extremely powerful Izard, but only with a lucky shot while Izard is distracted.
Despite having a talented horror movie director, the film is not scary and instead comes off as cliche. When the film is scary, however, the effect may prove too much for young viewers. The movie contains components such as blood sacrifices, haunted dolls, creepy paintings and frankly disturbing images which will give children in the audience nightmares for weeks.
Nevertheless, the jump scares are predictable yet still allow the film to keep its versatility and appeal to all viewers. Additionally, the comedy in the film was well thought out and executed by two distinguished actors who blend seamlessly into their characters and give the movie an extra sense of depth. Moreover, movies such as The House With A Clock In its Walls rely on special effects to make the magic more realistic and exciting in order to impact the audience more. The film uses tasteful and artfully integrated CGI to immerse the viewer in an almost surreal experience. Regardless, these factors fail to make up for the whole movie.
Ultimately, The House With A Clock In its Walls fails to execute the genuine suspense and wonder of the book, corrupting the plotline with poor acting and truly mixed horror. Unfortunately, time cannot be reversed for this movie.