Creepy for kids: 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls' is effectively frightful


    Owen Vaccaro (Lewis Barnavelt), Jack Black (Uncle Jonathan) and Cate Blanchett (Mrs. Zimmerman) in "The House With A Clock in Its Walls," the spine-tingling, magical adventure of a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. Based on the first volume in the beloved children's series of books, the film is directed by master frightener Eli Roth. (Photo: Universal)

    “The House with a Clock in Its Walls”
    3 out of 5 Stars
    Director:
    Eli Roth
    Writer: Eric Kripke, John Bellairs (novel)
    Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro
    Genre: Comedy, Family, Horror
    Rated: PG for thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language

    Owen Vaccaro ("Daddy's Home") stars as Lewis Barnavelt, a recently orphaned boy sent to live with his eccentric uncle in "The House With A Clock in Its Walls," the spine-tingling, magical adventure of a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. Based on the first volume in the beloved children's series of books, the film is directed by master frightener Eli Roth. (Photo: Universal)

    SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - Synopsis: Following the death of his parents, young Lewis Barnavelt travels by bus to Zebedee, Michigan, to live with his eccentric uncle, a warlock with a house full of magical secrets.

    Jack Black (Uncle Jonathan) and Owen Vaccaro (Lewis Barnavelt) in "The House With A Clock in Its Walls," the spine-tingling, magical adventure of a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. Based on the first volume in the beloved children's series of books, the film is directed by master frightener Eli Roth. (Photo: Universal)

    Review: “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” is a horror film that targets younger audiences, assuming those children have a tolerance for being scared. It’s far spookier than a Goosebumps film, but not nearly frightening enough to frighten those with a driver’s license.

    Rose Rita Pottinger (Vanessa Anne Williams) tries to befriend new kid Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) in "The House With A Clock in Its Walls," the spine-tingling, magical adventure of a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. Based on the first volume in the beloved children's series of books, the film is directed by master frightener Eli Roth. (Photo: Universal)

    Set against the backdrop of the 1950s, the story finds Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), a young and awkward boy, thrown into the strange and wonderful world of witches and warlocks that he never thought existed. Book smart, but socially inexperienced, Lewis tries to navigate a new school while also adjusting to a home life that bears no resemblance to the one he has just left behind. In a bid for popularity, Lewis breaks his uncle’s only rule and manages to push the entire inhabitants of the world one step closer to non-existence.

    Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black), Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) and Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) face down some dark magic in "The House With A Clock in Its Walls," the spine-tingling, magical adventure of a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. Based on the first volume in the beloved children's series of books, the film is directed by master frightener Eli Roth. (Photo: Universal)

    Director Eli Roth has never been known to show restraint. So, it should be no surprise that there is an abundance of pumpkin splatter thrown across the screen and some juvenile humor that will probably draw laughs from children and groans from adults.

    Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) and Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) on their street in New Zebedee in "The House With A Clock in Its Walls," the spine-tingling, magical adventure of a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. Based on the first volume in the beloved children's series of books, the film is directed by master frightener Eli Roth. (Photo: Universal)

    Performances are appropriately over the top, particularly from Jack Black, as Uncle Barnavelt, and Vaccaro. Blanchett keeps things a little more grounded, but there’s always a wink and a glimmer in her eyes.

    Owen Vaccaro (Lewis Barnavelt), Jack Black (Uncle Jonathan) and Cate Blanchett (Mrs. Zimmerman) in "The House With A Clock in Its Walls," the spine-tingling, magical adventure of a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. Based on the first volume in the beloved children's series of books, the film is directed by master frightener Eli Roth. (Photo: Universal)

    As a child, I would have loved “The House with a Clock in Its Walls.” As an adult, I found it amusing.

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