Jack Black and Cate Blanchett’s presence as frenemy witch and warlock adds tremendous comic zing to The House With a Clock In Its Walls. Their interplay makes Clock a minor Halloween movie classic. That horror meister Eli Roth directed this is about as surprising as learning teen raunch king Bob Clark of the Porkys series went on to deliver the holiday masterpiece A Christmas Story.
The décor is filled with retro 1950’s designs that periodically animate and reanimate themselves like over eager and affectionate house pets. There is enough haunted house gothic to give it a slightly scary but still Warthog-ian Edge. The humor and kinetic editing is straight from the 1980’s Joe Dante Gremlins and Spielberg sketchbook (Amblin is a producing partner).
Clock is light on the psychology and heavy on the magic and mythology. Clock is a pre-teen film that only wants to lightly scare and not traumatize.
Clock works well for its target audience because it’s more pixieish than ghoulish, more theme park ride than horror night attraction. It’s as scary and magical as it needs to be.