The House With a Clock in Its Walls

The House With a Clock in Its Walls

2018, PG, 104 min. Directed by Eli Roth. Starring Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp.

REVIEWED By Matthew Monagle, Fri., Sept. 21, 2018

Few phrases seem as ill-suited for each other as "family-friendly" and "Eli Roth." Roth, once heralded by entertainment editors as a "gore merchant," is often positioned as the American director who brought hyperviolent horror films into the Hollywood mainstream. So it comes as no small shock that The House With a Clock in Its Walls may very well be one of the best spooky movies to ever operate under a PG rating. The man known for taking things too far also appears to know exactly where to stop.

The year is 1955, and following the loss of both of his parents, young Lewis (Vaccaro) is sent to Michigan to live with his estranged uncle Jonathan (Black). Soon thereafter, Lewis learns that Jonathan is a warlock  (as the young bibliophile notes: noun, a man who practices witchcraft). It's his task to guard the secrets of his miraculous house – complete with wizardly library, shifting windows, and an overly loyal chair – with a little help from his platonic friend Florence (the always-magical Blanchett). You see, the very evil and very dead previous owner of the house (MacLachlan) has designs on taking back what was once his, and it will take all three of them  –  warlock, witch, and apprentice  –  to figure out the secrets of the mysterious clock he hid there before it’s too late.

Inevitably, audiences will come in expecting Black’s robust screen presence, and quickly recognize the film’s cheerful 1950s Norman Rockwell meets Edward Gorey aesthetic, but what works best about The House With a Clock in Its Walls is how far Roth manages to push the envelope. He finds little ways to age up his visuals; when books come flying off the shelf to attack Lewis, for example, they leave behind bloody paper cuts across both of his hands, a small touch that will undoubtedly stick with young viewers. Or take the demonic warlock who seems destined to serve as nightmare fuel for the youngest audience members; it’s still a kids’ movie, but one adult horror fans will eventually look back on with genuine affection.

This maturity also extends to the characters. The villain’s evil scheme is inspired by the post-traumatic stress he suffered during World War II; meanwhile, Florence struggles to overcome the magic-shaped void in her life caused by the death of her own daughter. Kids may not be able to fully understand these forms of trauma, but most family movies do themselves no favors by pretending these traumas do not and cannot exist. By never talking or shooting down to its young audience, The House With a Clock in Its Walls proves itself to be – against all odds – a thoroughly charming family film. And just in time for Halloween.

Showtimes

Wed., Oct. 17

2:30, 5:40

Thu., Oct. 18

12:35, 5:40

Fri., Oct. 19

10:55am, 1:45, 4:35

Sat., Oct. 20

11:00am, 1:55

Sun., Oct. 21

10:50am, 1:40, 4:45

Mon., Oct. 22

11:00am, 1:45, 4:35

Tue., Oct. 23

4:35
AFA 11:00am, 1:45

Wed., Oct. 17

12:20

Thu., Oct. 18

11:50am

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Wed., Oct. 17

CC/DVS 11:20am, 2:10, 4:50, 7:30

Thu., Oct. 18

CC/DVS 11:00am, 1:40, 4:20

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Wed., Oct. 17

digital 11:45am, 2:45

Thu., Oct. 18

digital 11:45am, 2:45

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Thu., Oct. 18

digital 1:30, 4:10

Wed., Oct. 17

digital 11:00am

Thu., Oct. 18

digital 10:40am, 1:25, 4:10

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Wed., Oct. 17

digital 1:45, 4:20, 6:55, 9:35

Thu., Oct. 18

digital 1:45, 4:20, 6:55, 9:35

Fri., Oct. 19

digital 1:40, 4:25

Sat., Oct. 20

digital 1:40, 4:25

Sun., Oct. 21

digital 1:40, 4:25

Mon., Oct. 22

digital 1:45, 4:35, 7:20, 10:05

Tue., Oct. 23

digital 1:45, 4:35, 7:20, 10:05

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Oct. 17

digital 11:10am, 10:15

Thu., Oct. 18

digital 10:10am, 12:40, 3:15

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Wed., Oct. 17

digital 12:00

Thu., Oct. 18

digital 12:00

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Wed., Oct. 17

1:20, 4:20, 7:10, 10:05

Thu., Oct. 18

1:20, 1:35, 4:20, 5:15, 8:30

Fri., Oct. 19

9:50am, 1:35, 5:15, 8:30

Sat., Oct. 20

9:50am, 1:35, 5:15, 8:30

Sun., Oct. 21

1:35, 5:15, 8:30

Mon., Oct. 22

1:35, 5:15, 8:30

Tue., Oct. 23

1:35, 5:15, 8:30

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Wed., Oct. 17

1:40, 4:20, 6:50, 9:20

Thu., Oct. 18

11:10am, 1:40, 4:20, 6:50, 9:20

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Wed., Oct. 17

2:15, 4:35

Thu., Oct. 18

12:00, 2:30

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Oct. 17

CC/DVS 1:00, 3:50, 7:20, 10:20

Thu., Oct. 18

CC/DVS 1:00, 3:50, 7:20, 10:20

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Wed., Oct. 17

CC/DVS 1:00, 3:30

Thu., Oct. 18

CC/DVS 5:15

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Oct. 17

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:25, 5:00, 7:35, 10:10

Thu., Oct. 18

CC/DVS 11:50am, 2:25, 5:00, 7:35, 10:10

Fri., Oct. 19

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:30

Sat., Oct. 20

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:30

Sun., Oct. 21

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:30

Mon., Oct. 22

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:30

Tue., Oct. 23

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:30, 10:30

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Wed., Oct. 17

1:30, 4:30

Thu., Oct. 18

1:30, 4:30

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Wed., Oct. 17

11:30am, 2:20, 6:00, 9:00

Thu., Oct. 18

11:30am, 2:20, 6:00, 9:00

Schulman Theatres Lost Pines 8

1600 Chestnut St, Bastrop, 512/321-0123, www.schulmantheatres.com

Wed., Oct. 17

10:00am, 1:00, 4:05, 7:10, 10:10

Thu., Oct. 18

9:55am, 1:00, 4:00

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Wed., Oct. 17

4:00, 6:30, 9:00

Thu., Oct. 18

12:30, 4:00, 6:30, 9:00

Fri., Oct. 19

11:25am, 1:35, 8:45

Sat., Oct. 20

11:25am, 1:35, 8:45

Sun., Oct. 21

11:25am, 1:35, 8:45

Mon., Oct. 22

11:40am, 9:20

Tue., Oct. 23

11:40am, 9:20

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Wed., Oct. 17

2:30, 5:00, 7:30, 10:30

Thu., Oct. 18

12:00, 2:30, 5:00, 7:30, 10:30

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Wed., Oct. 17

CC/DVS 12:15, 2:45, 5:15, 7:45, 10:15

Thu., Oct. 18

CC/DVS 12:15, 2:45, 5:15, 7:45, 10:15

Fri., Oct. 19

CC/DVS 12:45, 2:05, 3:30

Sat., Oct. 20

CC/DVS 12:45, 2:05, 3:30

Sun., Oct. 21

CC/DVS 11:35am, 5:45

Mon., Oct. 22

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00, 9:30

Tue., Oct. 23

CC/DVS 11:30am, 4:30, 7:00, 9:30

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The House With a Clock in Its Walls, Eli Roth, Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp

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