THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS Eli Roth makes a fam­ily film? Take cover…

Total Film - - Contents - JM

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).

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