THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS
THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS Eli Roth makes a family film? Take cover…
And Cate Blanchett and Jack Black within it.
After Cabin Fever, Hostel and this year’s Death Wish remake, Eli Roth doesn’t exactly have a track record in crafting fun for all the family. Which is why his appointment to direct The House With A Clock In Its Walls is so intriguing. Adapted from the 1973 novel by John Bellairs, it’s the 1955-set story of young Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) who comes to live with his eccentric, magic-wielding Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black).
For Roth, the choice made total sense. As a kid, while he was watching “intense scary horror films” such as Evil Dead on home video, in cinemas he was gorging on Steven Spielberg classics like Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. “These movies for me, seeing them in the theatre had a certain magic to them,” he says. “They were these wild, insane rides.”
No wonder when he was sent the script for Clocks, with a chance to work for Spielberg’s Amblin, he jumped at it. “It was exactly what I was looking for.” It also afforded Roth the chance to meet once more with Spielberg (years earlier, the director was an extra on Jurassic Park sequel The Lost World).
This time around, Spielberg was a treasure-trove of great advice. “He told me: ‘Don’t be afraid to make it scary.
Kids love to be scared.’ I was like, ‘You don’t have to twist my arm!’” The legendary director even lent Roth some of his own personal collection of automatons for a scene in which robots turn on our heroes. “He can’t have them in his house because they freak out his kids too much,” he grins.
With Cate Blanchett co-starring as Barnavelt’s neighbour Mrs. Zimmerman and Kyle MacLachlan also on board, Roth calls it a “dream team” of a cast. So what did Spielberg make of the final cut? “He said, ‘This is a true Amblin movie. Eli, you’re really carrying the torch,’” the director sighs. “It was like that call I waited for my entire life.”
ETA | 21 SEPTEMBER / THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS OPENS NEXT MONTH. JACK BLACK IS INTERVIEWED ON P100.
Jack Black stars as an eccentric warlock, while Cate Blanchett plays the magical next-door neighbour (below).