Couch Potato Critic Review: The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Before watching the film in IMAX, we were treated to the 3D IMAX Michael Jackson classic Thriller music video. The crowd really enjoyed that. It was very enjoyable in 3D. People in the audience were singing along with the film, and afterward a few even applauded.

Now…onto the main film.

Well, I honestly didn’t think it was possible, but Eli Roth has, in my opinion, actually made a good film. I have seen his films before, and always have felt either annoyed or repulsed. But, maybe he’s aging and has kids of his own now, he actually made a film worth watching. I could go on and on about why I dislike his films, but, this review is about this movie, and this movie only. I want to celebrate what I feel is no small accomplishment.

The film is based on a book I never read, so I have no clue how true to the text it is. Either way, I found that I really liked this film, and though it’s NOT his average kind of flick, Roth does manage to keep the film dark. I will make it clear that the magic depicted in this film is NOT Mary Poppins level stuff. There’s blood magic, pentagrams, necromancing, apocalyptic level shit. So, be forewarned that it’s dark, a tad scary, and it can be intense. But, as much as it is all that, it is also a fun film, that is semi family friendly. I mean, it is too intense for small children. But, it totally is a solid PG film. I’d be fine taking my 9 to 12 year olds to see it. But, it is geared for tweens and teens. It’s up to the individual parent to decide if their kids can handle it.

Jack Black, as always, is a hoot. He is oddly cast opposite the gorgeously amazing Cate Blanchett, who absolute owns this movie. Purple is definitely her color. But, you know what? Jack Black holds his ground with her, and never feels miscast as he and she banter back and forth. Black and Blanchett have a very good onscreen chemistry in this film.

Owen Vacarro absolutely is the best part of this film. He really shines as the newly orphaned Lewis, who has been forced to go and live with his odd uncle Jonathan (Black), who just so happens to be a warlock. Owen is very natural in his performance, making it easy to feel connected to his character, as we watch him going through the pain of losing his parents, the need to feel accepted, to be liked, and even more so, loved by his family. Owen has a certain gravitas in his performance that works well with the array of changes his character faces in the film, sad one moment, hopeful the next, a second later he is terrified out of his mind, and just as quickly, he is suddenly resolved and heroic. He moves almost effortlessly through these quick transitions. I have to be honest, I’ve seen him before, Daddy’s Day and its sequel, but it wasn’t until this film that I felt impressed with his skills. So much so, that I look forward to seeing him in more films to come.

Another stand out performance, albeit a bit less time on screen, is the villain of the film, Kyle MacLachlan, whom I have been a fan of since 1984. He absolutely chews up the scenes he is in, and seems to really be relishing playing such an evil character. I wish we’d had more time to get to know him in the film, and feel that, that was one of the weakest parts of the film.

Honestly, there wasn’t anything in this film that I didn’t like. The music was great, amazing FX. The entire cast was fantastic.
Yeah. Paint me surprised, too, that I can now say I loved an Eli Roth film. Because I did.

The House with a Clock in its Walls gets a solid 8 out of 10 Potatoes.


There wasn’t anything in this film that I didn't like8

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