“The House with a Clock in its Walls” is perfect for the spooky season


Courtesy of Universal Pictures

In order to thrive through this Halloween season, it is essential to obtain a killer costume, possess amazing pumpkin carving skills and immerse yourself in the spooky spirit. The magical mystery movie “The House with a Clock in its Walls” will get anyone feeling ready for the upcoming Halloween season with its bundles of magic, witches, warlocks and evil killer floating pumpkins.

Based on the novel by John Bellairs from a series of 12 novels featuring a boy named Lewis Barnavelt, the descriptive creepiness throughout the movie definitely got my spine tingling, and the magical scenes, as well as the comedy interlaced throughout, kept my eyes glued to the screen.

After a tragic accident that results in the death of both of his parents, Lewis finds his way to his uncle Jonathan Barnavelt, played by Jack Black, who just happens to be a warlock living in a scary magic house. Black’s comedic personality thrived through his subtle jokes and puns throughout the movie which made it more enjoyable for me since I am a sucker for comedies. Cate Blanchett’s character, Mrs. Zimmerman, also adds a touch of sassiness to the plot which was well appreciated by the audience. These two characters had an undeniable chemistry between them that made me instantly like them from the moment they were introduced until the credits played.    

While the plot was entertaining, there were some questionable scenes that I personally do not think should be included in a PG-rated movie. I was shocked that the directors would include a scene resembling a blood ritual that Lewis performs using magic (that was a little too dark for me!) I also thought that the animatronic dolls, specifically a devil that carried Lewis out of a room while laughing, were extra creepy and out of place in the movie. Let us not forget the very realistic dead man that Lewis brought back to life using that blood ritual. These controversial scenes really added to the dark atmosphere of the film, and while the directors did a good job of making it look realistic, I do not think it was appropriate for a PG-rated movie.  

Despite the more sinister and eerie aspects of the movie, the visual effects were incredible and helped to alleviate some of the creepiness at times. Even though some of the visual effects made the frightening parts more intense, I still appreciated the way the directors manipulated the animations to make it so realistic. When Jonathan or Mrs. Zimmerman were playing with magic you could see it swirling around Jonathan’s hands and protruding from Mrs. Zimmerman’s wand. I loved the scene where Jonathan created a life-size version of the solar system. Lewis was able to touch small planets and stars which blew my mind, and it looked incredibly realistic. Also, I loved how the animations brought the creepy house to life using regular household items, my favorite being a sofa chair that whines and barks like a dog (I kind of want one now.) While these household characters were very entertaining and enhanced the magical feel of the movie, I thought they helped add a more childlike component to the plot which I can only assume appealed to the abundance of younger audience members.

Most of the movie consists of Jonathan, Lewis and Mrs. Zimmerman looking for the clock itself, which seems unnecessary and only slows the movie down. But of course, after they find it,  so many things happen at once that it was a little overwhelming. The movie sped up drastically and it was difficult to keep up with all the magic that was happening. Despite the craziness, I did get pretty envious of Lewis and his magic powers because I personally would love to know spells that I could use to make sure I pass every test or control objects around me.

Even with the slightly laughable and crazy plot, “The House with a Clock in its Walls” is the perfect introduction to October to get you prepared for Halloween. It for sure got me in a spooky mood with all of the evil and magic literally everywhere. For viewers with wide imaginations and a niche for quirky sorcery entertainment, this is for you. “The House with a Clock in its Walls” will surely make the time you waste daydreaming about having magical powers meaningful.

The Pathfinder gives “The House with a Clock in its Walls” a 7/10.