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