Lewis Barnavelt, after losing his parents, is sent to Michigan to live with his uncle Jonathan. He discovers his uncle is a warlock, and enters a world of magic and sorcery. But this power is not limited to good people: Lewis learns of Isaac Izard, an evil wizard who constructed a magical clock with black magic, as long as it exists it will keep ticking, counting down to doomsday. He died before he could finish the clock, but he hid the clock in his house, where Uncle Jonathan now lives. Now Lewis and Jonathan must find the clock before it finishes its countdown and ends the world.
The Backpack that Lewis is carrying during travel and to/from school is actually a real life Yugoslav People's Army Combat backpack Model 1975 - standard combat backpack from 1975 until 1990s and was also extensively used by every side during the Yugoslavian wars. It was uniquely designed around 1975 and not available in 1955. There are several varieties (black leather straps instead of leather colored and so on) and seems like front shoulder pads are removed, but definitely M75 - combat backpack of YPA. See more »
The closing credits sequence are filled with with characters and objects from the film, in the artwork of Edward Gorey (a Goth artist who collaborated on John Bellairs novels).
At the end of the closing credits, the film's cast wave goodbye. See more »
Theatrical versions of the movie are longer by 10 seconds, with a bumper for Universal Parks and Resorts placed before the Amblin Partners logo. this is removed from home video releases however, instead cutting directly to the Amblin Partners logo after the credits. See more »
My knowledge of kids' fantasy horror stories ranges from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Something Wicked This Way Comes to Goosebumps, to Harry Potter, all a bit odd, none too horrible. However, a heavy dose of that eccentric comes with the newest children's fantasy, The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The nerdiest kids should like this film; the normal maybe not so much because it lacks heavy horror!
Young orphan Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) goes to stay with his Uncle, Jonathan (Jack Black) and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchette). So far so good except the adults are witch and warlock and the boy precocious and eccentric. As Jonathan learns the basics of magic (not the benign Harry Potter stuff), he also learns that the dead magician Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) has tricked out his sumptuous Victorian mansion with a doomsday clock, whose discovery now is essential for mankind's survival and whose location must be found.
It is too convoluted a story to recount except that Lewis learns about necromancy and indomitability along with a bushel of new words fitting an emerging intellectual magician, albeit strange to his classmates. Lamentably, most of the horror tropes are broad and tame. A lion defecating on the nearest boy, however, should please the younger audience.
Youngsters may squirm at raising the dead while teens can easily survive that Halloween staple. Adults will be amused although disappointed at how little the comely Blanchette is used and how little humor the too-often serious Black is in a role made to order for his goofiness. Together, however, they are a comedy team worth noting. Good chemistry.
The magic of Harry Potter is not here while some of its charm resides with Lewis and the gifted witch, Mrs. Zimmerman. Along the way the film makes points about the destructiveness of wars and offers oddly funny set pieces such as when, for example, Blanchette head butts a pumpkin.
Audiences will magically or not flock to this unusually low-key horror treat. Just don't think about that lion.
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