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House With a Clock in Its Walls, The


Stars: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Surjic, Braxton Bjerken

Director: Eli Roth

This junior-league fantasy horror isn't the greatest entry in the field, but still pretty good fun, with fantastic production design by Jon Hutman.

Orphan Lewis (Vaccaro), his parents killed in a car crash (an all-too-familiar trope), is shunted off to the foreboding chateau of his eccentric Uncle Jonathan (a somewhat reined-in Black), who proves to be a warlock.

The rambling house is stuffed full of clocks, from one of which emerges Jonathan's neighbour, the purple-clad witch Madame Zimmerman (Blanchett). She and Jonathan exchange barbs and insults - 'I'd give you a nasty look,' says he, 'but you've already got one' - before they get down to teaching Lewis some magic, which he hopes will help him become less friendless at school.

Real evil, however, lurks in the form of Jonathan's former (dead) partner Izard (MacLachlan), whom Lewis, in trying to impress a friend (Surjic), inadvertently restores to life.

And, of course, there's a hidden clock, which provides the key to everything and is key(!) to Izard's plans to turn back time.

Some bodily ruderies will please 10-year-olds, while adults will find the film contains enough grotesques, style and invention to keep then amused for most of the film's (occasionally sluggish) runtime.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: entertainmentOne. Colour by FotoKem.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 18 Sep 2018