The House with a Clock in its Walls

Dive into a world of magic with a movie review of The House with the Clock in its Walls.

Kaitlin Wood and Isaac Walton

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Set in the year 1955 in New Zebedee, Michigan, a ten-year-old Lewis moves in with his uncle John after his parents were killed in a car crash. It isn’t long after that when Lewis begins to notice a weird sound coming from inside the walls: the ticking of a clock. As Lewis begins to notice other strange things around the house, he learns that his Uncle Jonathan and the neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman practice magic. Soon after, Lewis learns about the previous owner of the house, Isaac Izard, and inconsequentially brings the old owner back from the dead, causing the house to shift its loyalties back to Izard. When Izard returns to his former house he opens up the passageway to the clock in the walls.


The House With the Clock in its Walls is based on the novel written by John Bellairs and adapted into a film that was directed by Eli Roth. Some other movies that you may know from him are Death Wish and Inglorious Basterds.


The movie’s premise is about the existence of magic, and the warlocks who use it. When Lewis finally meets his uncle, from this point on it is evident that Jonathan is supposed to be the fun uncle who likes to play saxophone at 3am and eats cookies for dinner.

Lewis discovers magic, then convinces his uncle to teach him. Besides turning on a lamp and making his bed on command, no real magic is actually shown.

It is very evident that many of the scenes were pulled directly from the book, giving off a very forced delivery.  The movie’s third and final act runs faster than the first two, with the main character Lewis defeating Isaac and the rest of the newly adopted family living happily ever after.

For being rated PG, the movie has scenes that create a much darker tone. It takes place after the events of World War II, and one character Florence references having gone through it. The darker portion is where the camera focuses on a serial number tattoo on her forearm. She later explains losing both her husband and her child. After putting two and two together it is easy to imply that the events of the Holocaust are responsible for the death of her family and loss of her ability to cast magic. This is a good plot element to use to further explain a character’s backstory, but for a children’s movie, it might not be the best origin story.

The only other scene that was particularly memorable was the scene where the resurrected Isaac Izard reveals himself. This is a genuinely terrifying scene that caused the audience to squirm in their seats.

Given that this is the first installment of a 12 book series, there is plenty of opportunity for a deeper exploration into this universe’s magical aspect.