Finally, a decent spooky movie that children can enjoy for the Halloween festivities. “The House With a Clock in its Walls” delivers just the right amount of creepiness for the whole family to wig out about together. I have been waiting for this, a movie that reminds me of my favorite scary movie from childhood, “The Haunted Mansion.”
Jack Black stars as the oddball uncle, Jonathan Barnavelt, who lives in a house that has a mysterious ticking noise coming from the walls. When his nephew Lewis (Owen Varrco) comes to live with him, together with Ms. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), they learn the truth of the ticking noise. Together they use their powers of magic to save themselves, and the world, from the mysterious clock in the walls.
A children’s horror film, if you want to call it that, should scare the kid to a point: just enough for the characters on screen to seem scary, but not enough to truly scare the kid from ever seeing a scary movie again. Make the kid jump once or twice, have them want to hide their eyes from the screen in front of them, scare them, but don’t frighten them. This is what the movie did, a healthy dose of horror for the little ones’ lives.
Unlike other scary movies that are filled with tension and holding of breath for what might come next, “The House With a Clock in its Walls” used humor to balance out the frightfulness of the situation at hand. Instead of the constant tension of grinding teeth in the theater, laughter erupted from the children in the theater during scenes of suspense; a pumpkin brought to life by magic, terrifying in normal circumstances, blows up in Jonathan Barnavelt’s face, covering his face in nasty orange goo. The characters being haunted by a friend now back from the dead, something that would have been quite terrifying if it had not been for the humorous misfortunes the characters were forced to endure, i.e. Black’s character being turned into an infant by the clock’s magic. An incident that makes the situation weird not only for Jonathan but for Lewis as well since he has to stop the clock on his own now, while making sure his uncle who is a baby doesn’t get in the way.
Humor was key to this film being a success: anything short of the jokes and misfortunes displayed in the film would have made it too terrifying for children to enjoy. The director, Eli Roth, brought to life a world of magic and mystery to the screen with a hint of spook that is enjoyable for the whole family to watch during the Halloween festivities.