FAM­I­LYFRIENDLY FRIGHTS

Hor­ror di­rec­tor Eli Roth might have made a kids’ film, but it’s right in his wheel­house

Empire (UK) - - PREVIEW -

WE HAVE NEWS for any­one who would like to paint The House With A Clock In Its Walls as ‘some­thing of a de­par­ture’ for Eli Roth. Af­ter all, the di­rec­tor who’s bumped off help­less vic­tims ga­lore with killer viruses, tor­ture im­ple­ments and the odd can­ni­bal vil­lage does seem to be tak­ing a step away from pure hor­ror with a fan­tasy movie for, y’know, kids. But Roth is keen to head you off at the pass. “For me, it’s the most hon­est re­flec­tion and rep­re­sen­ta­tion of me and my per­son­al­ity,” he tells

Em­pire. “For years peo­ple have been ask­ing me: ‘When will you make a film that’s funny?’”

That would seem to be the case with

The House With A Clock In Its Walls, which sees Jack Black (“Our gen­er­a­tion’s Robin Wil­liams”) and Cate Blanchett (“Ev­ery­one thinks she’s se­ri­ous, but she’s hi­lar­i­ous”) team up as a witch and wiz­ard who, along with Black’s or­phaned nephew, must find the tit­u­lar clock and stop it from count­ing down to the end of the world. There will be laughs, but Roth also prom­ises that he’s mak­ing a movie wor­thy of its pro­duc­tion com­pany: Steven Spiel­berg’s le­gendary Am­blin En­ter­tain­ment. “Steven said to me, ‘You’ve made a true Am­blin movie,’” says Roth. “I miss the pure PG Am­blin movie. I wanted to bring that back. There’s got to be a gate­way movie peo­ple can take their kids to, to get their kids into scary movies. If you want your kid to grow up a hor­ror fan, you have to show them a movie that shows them how much fun it is to be on a scary ride.”

Roth also con­fides that he was given apt ad­vice by Spiel­berg him­self, a man who knows more than a thing or two about set­ting up screen jit­ters. “Kids love to be scared, but also ground it and make it emo­tional,” he says. “That was Steven’s ad­vice: don’t hold back on the scares.” And while play­ing in the PG realm means Roth can’t, for ex­am­ple, use a sev­ered head as a foot­ball, he can still have his gory cake and eat it. “Oh,

I can’t chop off heads, but I can chop up pump­kins,” he teases. “You’ll go, ‘Wait a minute — did he just make a Texas Chain Saw Mas­sacre ref­er­ence in a kids’ movie?’” This isn’t a de­par­ture, al­right. In fact, it’s right up Roth’s bloody boule­vard. CHRIS HE­WITT THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS IS IN CIN­E­MAS FROM 21 SEPTEM­BER

Roth on set with Jack Black and Cate Blanchett. Be­low: Hav­ing a sim­ply wiz­ard time. Eli Roth spoke to Em­pire on the phone from LA on 14 Au­gust, shortly be­fore the film’s pre­miere.

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