Eli Roth is most notable for directing Hostel and Hostel: Part II. He’s part of the Splat Pack, a group of filmmakers who make explicitly gory horror movies. And he’s the Bear Jew. You know, from Inglourious Basterds. Now he’s making… kids movies? The House with a Clock in Its Walls, directed by Roth, is a children’s fantasy movie based on the beloved 1973 novel by John Bellairs. It’s about a house… with a literal clock in its walls. It has elements of fantasy and mystery, grounds for Roth to use his horror sensibilities. (Harry Potter is sweet and magical and all that, but it’s the terrifying villains that made kids wet their beds over eight films.) Unfortunately, Roth doesn’t manage to perform the same trick. Instead, it feels like he watched every single children’s fantasy ever made, picked the parts he liked best and plonked them into a boiling cauldron. The end result is, well, a better-than-average Harry Potter wannabe which, in the end, might just be enough for kids. Harry — I mean Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) — is an orphan who goes to Michigan to live with his estranged Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black). It’s 1955. Kids look like Danny Zuko and everything is varying shades of brown. Jonathan’s house is the creepy two-storey abode with jack-o’-lanterns in the front yard all year round. He lives with best friend Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), who literally arrives on screen by bursting through a clock. The clocks are many in this… [Read full story]
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