The House with a Clock in Its Walls (film)
|The House with a Clock in Its Walls|
|Directed by||Eli Roth|
|Screenplay by||Eric Kripke|
|Based on||The House with a Clock in Its Walls|
by John Bellairs
|Edited by||Fred Raskin|
|Music by||Nathan Barr|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures (Worldwide)|
Mister Smith Entertainment (EMEA)
|Box office||$131.5 million|
The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a 2018 American fantasy comedy film directed by Eli Roth, based on the 1973 novel of the same name by John Bellairs. It stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Sunny Suljic, and Kyle MacLachlan. The film follows a young boy, Lewis, who is sent to live with his uncle, Jonathan, in a creaky, old house. He soon learns it was previously inhabited by an evil warlock. Universal Pictures released the film in the United States on September 21, 2018. It was a box office success, grossing over $131 million worldwide and received mostly positive reviews from critics who largely praised the cast, but said the film did not fully live up to its potential. It is Roth's first film to not receive an R rating.
In 1955, after his parents are killed in a car crash, ten-year-old Lewis Barnavelt moves to live with his Uncle Jonathan in New Zebedee, Michigan. All he has left of his parents is a Magic 8-Ball they had given him, and a family photograph. Upon entering his new home, he meets Jonathan's neighbor and best friend, Florence Zimmerman.
During the night, Lewis is puzzled when he hears a ticking sound in the walls. Lewis begins exploring the house and stumbles upon Jonathan smashing a wall with an ax. Frightened, he runs away and encounters multiple household objects coming to life. Jonathan confesses that he is a warlock and Florence is a witch. The house's previous owners were a sinister warlock named Isaac Izard, (an orphaned former friend of Jonathan's who was traumatized while fighting in WWII), and his equally wicked wife Selena. Isaac and Selena had apparently hidden a clock within the walls of the house before they died, and Jonathan has been trying to find the clock and discover its purpose. Despite Jonathan's cautions, Lewis begins teaching himself magic.
On his first day at his new school, Lewis meets Tarby Corrigan, who befriends him during Tarby's campaign for class president. When Tarby wins the election, he abandons Lewis.
Lewis's mother visits him in dreams. When he laments that Tarby does not see him as a friend, she suggests that he use a spell from a forbidden book to impress Tarby. On Halloween night, Lewis performs a necromancy spell in a cemetery, accidentally summoning the ghost of Isaac who reinhabits his dead body.
Lewis spots Isaac in the window of a house of a neighbor, Mrs. Hanchett. He "rescues" her from Isaac and brings her across the street to Jonathan's house, but before he can find Jonathan, Isaac confronts them at the front door. He reveals that Mrs. Hanchett is really Selena, who killed Mrs. Hanchett, took her place, and used her bones to make the clock's key. It was also Selena who took the form of Lewis's mother to persuade him to summon Isaac. Isaac explains that his hidden clock's blueprints came from the demon Azazel, who had given them to Isaac as he sought relief from the visions of horror he had witnessed during the war. The clock will turn back time so that humanity never existed and undo the horrors that he had witnessed. Jonathan, Florence and Lewis are chased from the house.
Using the Magic 8-Ball to learn the location of the clock underneath the boiler room, the three return. Florence defeats a snake guarding the room while the others pursue Isaac. The clock transforms Jonathan into a baby, except for his face which he'd shielded with cards. Lewis consults the Magic 8-Ball, which says "Say goodbye". He realizes that he has to let go of the pain of losing his parents to harness his true power. He breaks the clock by dropping the ball, which blocks the clock's gears. Then Lewis blasts Isaac and Selena with magic he channels from the clock. They fall, de-age, and are ultimately erased from existence.
Lewis returns to school with more confidence and gets revenge on Tarby and his friends by magically bouncing a basketball off their faces and into the basket, impressing his other classmates. He then befriends a girl named Rose Rita Pottinger, who appears to have had a crush on Lewis. At the end of the day, Jonathan and Florence are shown picking up Lewis, the three of them now live like a regular family.
- Jack Black as Jonathan Barnavelt, Lewis's uncle and a warlock
- Cate Blanchett as Florence Zimmerman, Jonathan's neighbor, and friend, and a witch
- Owen Vaccaro as Lewis Barnavelt, Jonathan's 10-year-old orphaned nephew
- Renée Elise Goldsberry as Selena Izard, an evil witch
- Sunny Suljic as Tarby Corrigan, Lewis's classmate
- Colleen Camp as Mrs. Hanchett, Jonathan's nosey neighbor
- Lorenza Izzo as Mrs. Barnavelt, Lewis's mother and Jonathan's younger sister
- Kyle MacLachlan as Isaac Izard, Selena's husband, and an evil warlock
- Vanessa Anne Williams as Rose Rita Pottinger, one of Lewis's classmates
- The credits said the Chair had the job of Griffin Tamer, and the Griffin had the job of Chair's Hair & Makeup.
Principal photography on the film began on October 10, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the challenges for the visual effects team was building massive 10-foot and 14½-foot gears for the Clock Room sequence. Another challenge was designing the Jack-o'-lantern characters, which included input from Steven Spielberg on the final designs. The soundtrack was composed by Nathan Barr and was released by Waxwork Records on a double LP.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls was released by Universal Pictures on September 21, 2018. The House with a Clock in Its Walls was released for digital download on November 27, 2018, followed by a DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray release on December 18, 2018.
The House with a Clock in its Walls has grossed $68.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $62.9 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $131.5 million, against a production budget of $42 million.
In the United States and Canada, The House with a Clock in its Walls was released alongside Assassination Nation, Life Itself and Fahrenheit 11/9, and was projected to gross $15–20 million from 3,592 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $7.8 million on its first day, including $840,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $26.9 million, finishing first at the box office and marking the best opening of Roth's career, surpassing Hostel in 2006 ($19.6 million). In its second weekend the film made $12.5 million, finishing third behind newcomers Night School and Smallfoot.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 209 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "An entertaining PG detour for gore maestro Eli Roth, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a family-friendly blend of humor and horror with an infectious sense of fun." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of 'B+' on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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