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.
Shipped to cinemas under the pseudonym "Kimono" See more »
Jonathan's last name is Barnavelt, the same as Lewis. But it's revealed that Jonathan is Lewis' maternal uncle, so Jonathan should have Lewis' mother's maiden name as his last name, not Barnavelt. See more »
I'll be honest, I was a little worried about this considering that: a) This is the first children's film from torture porn horror director Eli Roth not to mention the first time he's helmed a film with an attempted big visual flair. b) The film is more humorous than the book. I was afraid it might be too hard to be Goosebumps. Luckily, both my fears were abated.
Jack Black and Cate Blanchett have excellent chemistry together. They're both quite humorous, but they also nail the characters' more serious moments. It's weird that a trifecta of children's/family films has produced some of Jack Black's best roles. Although, you feel a bit more of the Jack Black personality here than in his other two roles, he does manifest the character of Uncle Jonathan, the fun uncle who also has a secret undertaken. Overall, all the characters are really well-fleshed out here.
Visually the film looks great from the 50s' setting to the entire look of the lavish house from the title, especially the scary visuals. Really, they rank with the likes of Tim Burton or Krampus.
The film knows when to have fun, but it knows when to bring on the scares. As a child I preferred the original book and the other works of John Bellairs over Goosebumps, because the horror was played more directly and seriously, and this movie understands that. Cautious parents be aware that this is as scary as a PG movie can get. Well, maybe not as much as The Witches, but what is. This is definitely Coraline level.
The only downside is that at a running time of one hour and forty-four minutes, the second act, which is heavy on the character bits, drags a bit. Most of the action doesn't happen till the third act.
Roth surpassed my expectations here, and I hope he gets a chance at adapting the second book in the series.
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