Could this be the next great starter horror movie?
Every horror fan needs to start somewhere. Each generation has a scary movie introduction, whether it’s Coraline, Gremlins, Goonies, Monster Squad, or Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. A seven year old should not be subjected to Cabin Fever, The Green Inferno, or Hostel. And yet… Eli Roth, the famed director of those iconic brutal gore-fest movies is bringing us a very kid-friendly scary movie. Until, that is, one of the lead characters dissolves at the genitals due to a flesh eating virus… wait no… that won’t happen, right? The movie is being produced by Stephen Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, and that infusion of capital shows in the beautiful sets and graphics on display. It also will feature one of the great comic character actors in the business, Jack Black, who has a goofy impishness that kids eat up… and one of the great actresses of our time in Cate Blanchett.
So. Much. Promise!
A orphaned boy, Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) teams up with his wizardly uncle, Jonathan Barnavelt (Black) to try and find a clock hidden in the walls of a creepy mansion, that has the power to end the world as we know it. The trailer show some wonderful effects of the magical house, with its shifting imagery and tentacular beasties. OK… admittedly the tentacular beastie looked a little cartoony, but I get what they’re after. Pick it up in post! Black looks like he is in high mischief mode, and his smirking, fireball flinging wizard has a very Willie Wonka level nuttiness to him.
So much of the success of this film, I believe, will fall upon the shoulders of young Mr. Vaccaro, and how compelling he is as the protagonist. He doesn’t need to be Henry Thomas Elliot good, but as long as he’s not a complete stiff, Blanchett and Black are certainly compelling enough to carry a film like this along. How Roth manages to elicit the scares will be fascinating. Without the gruesome over-the-top gore that he’s notorious for, what will his brand of kid spooky be? Will he resort to jump scares? (Probably some mild ones, I suspect.)
Do we want to see it?
I’m a fan of all the major players, and the thought of Eli Roth doing a kid’s movie is so intriguing! In this era of serious horror films, I really am glad that we can get a “My first horror movie” type of film released. We talk a lot about gateway movies at The Scariest Things, and this would appear to be a perfect opportunity, if they get it right to have a Harry Potter-like franchise.
Even if I wasn’t a grownup, I wouldn’t want to see it. The Lion, the Witch, and the Jack Black? Bleh.
Yeah, okay, I’m game. I’m a bit afeared it could slip into slapstick land based on the age of the protagonist — Disney’s Haunted Mansion meets Home Alone or something equally distasteful — but the trailer didn’t show that so there’s hope. And Eli Roth trying to entertain children without giving them permanent emotional scars is definitely something I’d like to witness.
The House with the Clock has not yet been rated (PG?) and will be released on September 10, 2018. It’s a little early for a Halloween release, but perfectly positioned in the market to claim some box office glory, as this is a date that won’t offer up a lot of competition.
I showed it to my 7.5-year old and he freaked. Well we watched 20 seconds of the trailer, so mission accomplished Mr. Roth? This one’s got some endearing qualities, but it also looks like one big ol’ fat cash grab. Has Eli Roth run out of ideas or is he the new John Favreau? Some serious production values were thrown at this, but I didn’t really see the scares. I’m going to give this a positive nod…like a 51% positive nod.