Story

The House with a Clock in its Walls begins when 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) loses his parents in an accident and is sent to live with his estranged and eccentric uncle, Jonathan (Jack Black). Lewis soon discovers that his uncle is a good (though not very skilful) warlock. With the help of his witch neighbour, Mrs Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), Jonathan has been searching for a doomsday clock, which has been hidden somewhere in his house by the evil warlock Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan).

When Lewis borrows his uncle’s forbidden book of dark spells to impress his new school friend Tarby (Sunny Suljic), he accidentally brings Isaac back from the grave. Lewis, Jonathan and Mrs Zimmerman must now race to find and destroy the clock before Isaac and his wife Selene (Renee Elise Goldsberry) bring about the Apocalypse.

Themes

Death of a parent; bullying; magic and supernatural themes

Violence

The House with a Clock in its Walls has some violence. For example:

  • Lewis uses magic to knock out two bullies with a basketball. Other children cheer for Lewis.
  • An explosion throws characters to the ground. One character dies, and blood is seen in his mouth.
  • Mrs Zimmerman makes frequent jokes about wanting to stab herself in the ears when she’s listening to Jonathan.
  • Tarby threatens to break Lewis’s arms if Lewis doesn’t do what Tarby tells him. Tarby then punches Lewis in the stomach.

Sexual references

The House with a Clock in its Walls has some sexual references. For example, Isaac and Selene (in disguise) kiss each other intimately.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Nothing of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in The House with a Clock in its Walls: Converse shoes and Ovaltine.

Coarse language

The House with a Clock in its Walls has some mild coarse language and insults, including ‘idiot’, ‘damn’, ‘hag’ and ‘freak’.

Ideas to discuss with your children

In The House with a Clock in Its Walls Eli Roth brings to life the children’s novel of the same name by John Bellairs.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls is entertaining and well made, and slightly older children and adults who enjoy spooky movies and Jack Black comedies will like it. But it has supernatural themes, physical transformations, and depictions of death. This means it’s likely to frighten children under eight years and isn’t appropriate for children under five years. Although the movie’s supernatural and horror themes are low impact, it’s important to be aware of these themes if you’re thinking of taking children under 10 years to see this movie.

These are the main messages from this movie:

  • Difference can be a strength.
  • Accept others for who they are, and don’t try to change to please others.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls could give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like:

  • gambling, specifically poker
  • house rules, including why children can’t eat cookies for every meal.