The House with a Clock in Its Walls Review

Reviews Films




The House with a Clock in Its Walls is based on a novel originally published in 1973 by John Bellairs. It is a mixture of fantasy and comedy mainly aimed at young kids and teens.

Set in 1955, the plot follows a young boy, Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), whose parents have passed away and is now forced to go live with his uncle, Jonathan (Jack Black), a man he has never met.  Jonathan’s house turns out to be old and creaky, many believing it to be evil and haunted by Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan), the orginial owner of the property.  It is believed he has hidden a clock capable of ending the world inside the walls of his home. With the help of friendly witchy neighbour, Florence (Cate Blanchet), Lewis and Jonathan try to find and stop the clock from wiping out the world.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is visually elaborate and lavish, even the most cynical amongst us can’t deny the spectacular set and outfits. From the fun jack o’lanterns, hilariously gassy Lion plant sculpture, a chair that acts like a dog, to the picturesque stained-glass window whose images magically change in order to communicate with the current owner. Throw in lots of chocolate chip and nut cookies with striking special effects and the end result is story that visually gives off a sense of wonder and magic.

Not all elements of the movie are fun and fairy-tale like, the loss of parents, bullying and rise of evil are represented, however, it is done so in a manner that won’t necessarily frighten but might upset little children.

The movie has a lot of strong points but the plot here doesn’t quite match up to its visual brilliance or the novel. It lacks power and depth as everything just moves along to the next scenario without much significance and impact. It is very noticeably aimed at younger audiences, with that being said, parents won’t have to suffer as The House with a Clock in Its Walls is enjoyable for adults too – just don’t expect a strong storyline.

If you have seen Goosebumps then you would have seen Jack Black in a similar character already, to his credit he does seem to fit these types of roles. Cate Blanchett is a breath of fresh air as a witch who loves to playfully insult Jonathan. Kyle MacLachlan is underutilised but makes a good villain. The highlights are Vanessa Anne Williams (briefly appears as Rose) and Owen Vaccaro, who are not only adorable as the outcast “weirdos” but also steal every scene they are in.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is the kind of film that every family member can watch with enjoyment.  6.5/10

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is in cinemas from today.


Best known as the international woman of mystery and the Chandler Bing among her friends. Monika grew up in a movie loving family in Europe, which meant she was not subjected to much censorship.  Her love of all things horror and action began very early on as a result.  Despite it all, she is not as big of an oddball as everyone (including family) originally predicted.   Thinks the term "chick flick" should be banned worldwide.