We all have memories of certain films that made an impact on us from our youth. For me personally one of my earliest memories of a movie that did make a strong impact on me, was the 1984 movie The NeverEnding Story from 1984. I must have been around 8 years old when i first watched the film. and i was really scared. Especially the scene with the wolf-like creature Gmork attacked Atreyu. The NeverEnding Story had everything you could wish for in a fairy tale way, and the special effects looked really good for being made in the early 80´s. Director Wolfgang Peterson ( also known for his cult classic Das Boot ) managed to make a movie for both a young audience and for adults as well, who love to dream away into a fantasy world where anything is possible. Let´s not even talk about the horrible sequels, since i only watched the second film. I decided not to see the third The NeverEnding Story movie after hearing it was beyond awful. Let´s move on to another film that enlightened my youth, the 1991 movie adaptation of The Addams Family from director Barry Sonnenfeld. This movie ( based on the classic 1964 TV series ) turned out to be one of the most insane black comedies of the 90´s with a really good cast including legendary actor Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd and Christina Ricci. I still think this movie adaptation is really funny today, especially because of the chemistry between Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston, who played the perfect combination of Gomez Addams and Morticia Addams. There was a sequel made called Addams Family Values, released in 1993. The sequel was a actually not bad, and managed to continue the story of the family, with a different but interesting plot. In 2004 we got ourselves a really good family movie adaptation of Lemony Snicket´s classic stories from A Series Of Unfortunate Events from author Daniel Handler. Jim Carrey as Lemony Snicket is absolutely brilliant, and made this film a really enjoyable comedy with some nice horror elements included. This is a must own on Blu Ray, and will most likely be a cult classic in the future. Director Eli Roth may be most known for his 2005 horror film Hostel. He have continued making horror mocvies since then in very different qualities. But when i heard he is releasing a family fantasy film called The House With A Clock in Its Wall with Jack Black and Cate Blanchet in the cast, i just had to check this out. With a great cast, and a director who have delivered some good films in the past, is this one of the biggest surprises of this year ? Or is this the family fantasy movie that never should have been made at all ?
10 Year old Lewis Barnavelt ( Owen Vaccaro ) lost both of his parents in a car crash. He moves in to his Uncle Jonathan Barnavelt ( Jack Black ). In this house Lewis also meet´s Unlce Jonathan´s best friend Florence Zimmerman ( Cate Blanchet ) who is also his neighbor. Lewis see that something strange is going on in Uncle Jonathan´s house. It turns out that the house is filled with magic, and that Jonathan is a warlock and Florence is a witch. The previous owner of the house was a sinister warlock named Isaac Izzard ( Kyle MacLachlan ). Lewis want to learn magic, even if Jonathan is not happy about this. So he begins to read books, how to learn how to control magic spells. In school Lewis is a bully victim, and he only have one friend named Tarby Corrigan ( Sunny Suljiic ). To become more popular, Lewis suggest that he will prove to Tarby that he can do magic. At the house of Jonathan, Tarby finds the key to open the forbidden room, with a book that will bring back the dead. Lewis knows that he will get into trouble, but agree to go to the cemetery to awaken the corpse of Isaac Izzard. They succeed, but this will come with very serious consequences, since Isaac is determined to use a hidden clock, that could turn back time so humanity never existed. Lewis has to stop this, with the help of Jonathan and Florenze.
The House With A Clock In Its Wall reminds me of a combination of Goosebumps and The Addams Family. You get both horror elements here, and a bit of comedy as well. And since it has been a while since i have seen a good family movie with horror elements, i have to say that this film manage to mix it all together on a nice level. In some ways, this film also brings me back to my childhood, when you appreciated family movies with magic and horror. I would not say that this film is like Harry Potter, even if magic is included. It feels more like The Addams Family with more creepy elements instead. One of the things this film does right, is make great characters. The young bullied boy Lewis, played by child actor Owen Vaccaro gives a great performance. You feel sorry for him, at the same time you can understand why he loves being in control while learning magic. Jack Black does another wonderful performance, this time as Lewis Uncle Jonathan, who teaches Jack how to control magic. One of the reasons why Jack Black fit perfect with this character, is that he knows how to portrait the odd relative. We have to talk about the performance of Cate Blanchet here, as Florence. She is without a doubt the strongest character of this film, and her attitude is both charming and funny. The horror elements is something i enjoy in this film as well. There is a creepy feeling here, that feels right for the location of this film, a very old house where magic have been around for a very long time. The evil pumpkins is one of those scenes where the tone of this film manage to deliver some nice Halloween elements, without becoming too predictable. We also have to mention legendary actor Kyle MacLachlan ( who have been in classics such as Twin Peaks, and the 1987 cult classic The Hidden ) as the dead Isac Izzard. To see Kyle deliver such a solid zombie performance is a delightful moment in this film. Is there anything negative to say about this film ? Not really, since i feel that this film manage to combine different classic elements in a positive way. And i have to say this is one of the best Eli Roth films in many years, since he kind of lost his path for a while. I will say that this film might be a bit too frightening for smaller children, that you should consider not showing the movie if they are too young. But if you want to see a good family movie with some fun horror moments, then The House With A Clock In Its Wall is a guaranteed good time. Finally a family horror movie that actually feels like a throwback to the 90´s, that does not happen very often.