The House With A Clock In Its Walls: Subpar in every aspect

Leonardo Paley

When Jack Black had his breakout, Golden Globe-nominated performance in 2003’s “School of Rock,” it was something fresh. A loveable goofball with fun faces, crazy voices and a true dedication to the gods of rock. As his career has grown throughout the years, we have unfortunately seen Black became a caricature of himself. “The House With A Clock In Its Walls” is no exception to this trend: one dimensional, predictable and without a hint of that early Jack Black ingenuity. Following his involvement in “Goosebumps,” Black feels like he is setting himself up to be typecast as the eccentric uncle character. However, Black’s poor performance is merely the tip of the iceberg..

Cate Blanchett also plays a poorly written and one-dimensional character who adds next to nothing to the film, disappearing multiple times throughout the plot. The leading actor, young Owen Vaccaro, is a constant reminder of how poor child actors tend to be. The film leans heavily on Vaccaro and his acting ability and suffers because of it.

Countering this, surprisingly, the only actor to truly shine is young Sunny Suljic, the young star of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” a voice actor in the 2018 video game “God of War” as Atreus, and the lead in Jonah Hill’s upcoming “Mid90s.” Sulfjic is only in the movie briefly, but somehow has more depth to his character than Black or Blanchett.


To be fair to the film, a children’s fantasy film based around magic post-Harry-Potter is too little too late. The effects used to portray magic simply aren’t impressive anymore, and magic systems without proper rules set in place feel like they exist only for the plot. “The House With A Clock In Its Walls” falls into this trap heavily, never stating how the magic in the film works, so multiple scenes towards the film’s climax don’t make sense why magic could or could not get them out of impossible situations.

Had a proper film been made back in the seventies or eighties when John Bellairs had begun writing the series, there would have been some hope for the film being something new and exciting. Unfortunately, the film came out more than forty years after the largely influential novel. With poor acting, poor writing and a predictable and generic plot, “The House With A Clock In Its Walls” brings almost nothing to the table.

Rating: 1/5 sails

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