Parental Guidance

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Might be a Little Too Creepy for Young Kids

Eli Roth's kid-horror flick is Spielbergian enough, but here are a few other witch-centric movies you can enjoy at home.

by | September 21, 2018 | Comments

Jack Black returns to the kid horror genre with this week’s The House with the Clock in Its Walls, and while it hasn’t impressed critics quite as much as Goosebumps, they still say it’s pretty good. However, it does have adult horror-meister Eli Roth behind the camera, so there may be a few things that are too intense for the younger kids. Read on for Christy Lemire’s family-friendly assessment of the film, as well as three witch-centric alternatives you may choose to watch instead.


THE MOVIE

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018) 65%

Rating: PG, for thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language.

A family film from horror director Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel) might sound like a contradiction in terms. But The House With a Clock in Its Walls features elements that are both fantastical and frightening. Based on the book by writer John Bellairs and illustrator Edward Gorey, the movie finds shy, studious Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) moving in with the uncle he’s never met (Jack Black) following his parents’ death in 1955. In small-town New Zebedee, Michigan, folks regard Black’s Uncle Jonathan as a bit of a weirdo, and his stately Victorian mansion is the stuff of legend. But Lewis quickly learns the truth: Jonathan is a warlock, trying to solve the mystery of the ticking coming from inside the home’s walls with the help of his next-door neighbor, the perpetually purple-clad witch Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett). Roth’s film plays with the possibility of using magic as a means of kid wish fulfillment: getting dressed in the morning, seeking revenge on school bullies in the afternoon. But it turns scarier as Lewis accidentally unlocks some darker powers with the use of a forbidden spell book. Creepy dolls abound in a secret room inside the house, accessible only by a dark passageway. Predatory pumpkins come to life to wreak havoc. And key scenes take place within a cemetery at night. It’s probably too much for very little kids, but I’d say this is a fine choice – and a solid introduction to horror – for viewers around 9 and older.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

If The House With a Clock in Its Walls has you pondering other movies about witches and warlocks, here are a few suggestions:

The Wizard of Oz (1939) 99%

Rating: G

It’s Dorothy’s story, of course: her hero’s journey along the Yellow Brick Road with the help of three new friends (and Toto, too). But it’s her encounter with two witches – one bad, one good – that sets her on that tuneful path. When the tornado Dorothy travels in to the Land of Oz fatally falls on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, her sister, the grotesque and green-hued Wicked Witch of the West (a chilling Margaret Hamilton), vows revenge. But as she tries to return home, Dorothy (Judy Garland) also enjoys the guidance and protection of Glinda, the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke), a vision in mountainous sparkles and tulle. When I was a little girl watching the annual TV broadcast of The Wizard of Oz – which was event viewing back in the ‘70s — the Wicked Witch of the West terrified me, as did her flying monkeys. So that part might be a bit too much for kids around 5 years old. But for everyone else, The Wizard of Oz is a must-see, a classic rite of passage. Watch it – or watch it again – with the whole family.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOW, iTunes


Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) 98%

Rating: G

A lovely and joyous film from animation master Hayao Miyazaki. While many of Miyazaki’s movies feature some dark and potentially disturbing imagery, this is a sweet, light tale – albeit one that’s about a witch. Thirteen-year-old Kiki leaves her family for a year to live and train in a foreign city, where she opens a delivery company. She navigates the skies above the shops and streets on her broomstick, with her signature red bow in her hair and her trusty black cat, Jiji, by her side. But as she draws closer to puberty, she finds she’s losing her abilities, which weakens her confidence. And she survives some perilous situations and near misses during her big-city adventures. But Kiki is a witch who uses her powers for good, and she’s loyal and resourceful. A great choice for all ages.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOWiTunes


The Witches (1990) 93%

Rating: PG

Anjelica Huston is a sleek and radiant witch in this wild and whimsical family adventure. Based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, The Witches finds young, orphaned Luke (Jasen Fisher) traveling with his grandmother (Mai Zetterling) on vacation in hopes of restoring her health. But he finds there happens to be a witch convention going on at the hotel where they’re staying, which enlivens all the outlandish fairy tales he’s heard about them over the years. Luke overhears their leader, Huston’s Eva Ernst, ordering her minions to turn all the children they see into mice – a special effect director Nicolas Roeg achieves with help from Jim Henson’s puppetry magic. The Witches is visually ambitious but also tonally twisted, with off-kilter humor and an overall sense of foreboding. The idea of witches turning kids into mice might seem frightening for very young viewers, but overall I’d say this is fine for children age 8 or 9 and older.

Watch now on: AmazonFandangoNOWiTunes

Tag Cloud

71st Emmy Awards First Reviews rotten prank reboot name the review Fox News nbcuniversal Anna Paquin asian-american comic books Crackle latino Exclusive Video Disney razzies 2020 rom-coms finale foreign Acorn TV crime drama blockbusters 90s Drama adaptation CW Seed Travel Channel game show teaser Universal TBS Nickelodeon Action Interview SundanceTV blaxploitation The Walt Disney Company news Funimation true crime scary movies joker PlayStation elevated horror binge TV movies SDCC ID toy story Thanksgiving Winners Music discovery comiccon Pop TV Premiere Dates psychological thriller Biopics Paramount Network National Geographic Pet Sematary First Look football police drama CNN MTV robots Turner screen actors guild Pride Month DirecTV canceled VOD cats Ghostbusters Reality Competition The Witch 2019 independent FOX Warner Bros. laika aliens GLAAD lord of the rings Song of Ice and Fire rt archives fresh best TV One jamie lee curtis Chernobyl new york streaming kaiju Election series new zealand free movies AMC New York Comic Con singing competition sequels RT21 President Video Games docudrama Vudu Avengers facebook ratings NBA Tokyo Olympics olympics composers Toys Extras comics Mudbound Cannes Elton John TV renewals satire Amazon wonder woman IFC Films Red Carpet historical drama NBC Tarantino SXSW San Diego Comic-Con El Rey 2018 Legendary 2015 Britbox Endgame movies boxoffice crime thriller Spectrum Originals Fox Searchlight Mystery directors basketball Stephen King festivals renewed TV shows Superheroes TIFF strong female leads Lifetime Infographic Sundance comic book adaptation indiana jones science fiction Nat Geo TCA Binge Guide Apple TV Plus GIFs video on demand halloween tv Shudder Crunchyroll cancelled TV shows nfl Trailer Amazon Studios Creative Arts Emmys Musical sag awards Year in Review Watching Series Ovation MCU FXX target TLC king arthur anthology halloween theme song game of thrones live action TCA 2017 2016 Shondaland spanish Paramount X-Men Tubi cinemax french Nominations Kids & Family king kong critics werewolf Awards supernatural pirates of the caribbean Film thriller YA PBS Black History Month spider-man Amazon Prime Holidays Grammys Star Wars YouTube Premium ghosts Classic Film FX cars biography chucky 72 Emmy Awards new star wars movies crossover social media Comedy 99% Captain marvel japanese doctor who 24 frames dark christmas movies Sundance TV TV Land Pirates mutant Television Academy 2021 witnail A24 natural history Spring TV Trivia Logo Black Mirror franchise telelvision Discovery Channel Musicals Emmys The Purge dceu zombie zero dark thirty PaleyFest Freeform Rocketman cops golden globes justice league superman diversity popular Awards Tour Hallmark Christmas movies Western Country The Academy Lionsgate Baby Yoda Tomatazos Alien monster movies LGBT Marvel Studios adenture ITV festival Winter TV international Mary poppins APB Pop Lifetime Christmas movies films Horror hispanic Cosplay talk show MSNBC Sneak Peek fast and furious sports revenge what to watch Netflix Christmas movies 1990s legend RT History italian See It Skip It Sony Pictures women heist movie VICE TCA Awards Television Critics Association south america Netflix Syfy kids suspense The CW Countdown serial killer animated Marvel Paramount Plus Star Trek Comedy Central Tumblr Epix HBO Max Broadway political drama Superheroe ESPN crime romantic comedy scene in color stoner tv talk unscripted universal monsters Peacock Sci-Fi dramedy based on movie Food Network movie Box Office 45 mission: impossible cartoon Mindy Kaling E! Rock australia adventure superhero DC Universe American Society of Cinematographers Comic Book dc emmy awards Marvel Television Teen child's play die hard Cartoon Network streaming movies children's TV high school ABC Signature HBO Go DGA Christmas Disney+ Disney Plus 93rd Oscars dragons E3 USA Network 21st Century Fox romance hollywood transformers Starz godzilla sequel Summer TNT BBC One FX on Hulu japan criterion VH1 cancelled TV series 007 concert Sundance Now aapi ABC Family Martial Arts Hulu screenings versus Rom-Com Apple spinoff Fall TV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina History GoT Best and Worst IFC zombies Esquire The Walking Dead harry potter BET Awards Ellie Kemper medical drama Image Comics scorecard Masterpiece Disney Channel WarnerMedia marvel cinematic universe obituary The Arrangement WGN batman BBC America cults know your critic Rocky 20th Century Fox A&E cancelled television classics NYCC psycho Comic-Con@Home 2021 Apple TV+ HBO vampires twilight Calendar canceled TV shows black sitcom Wes Anderson Schedule Spike OneApp Podcast TCM Quiz ViacomCBS slashers Dark Horse Comics indie Holiday Pixar jurassic park spy thriller all-time Oscars golden globe awards Amazon Prime Video parents Hallmark Trophy Talk politics Film Festival richard e. Grant video DC Comics Fantasy stop motion deadpool Super Bowl trailers CBS james bond anime USA Polls and Games TV saw cancelled Arrowverse Disney Plus hidden camera casting Adult Swim venice worst movies BBC BAFTA TCA Winter 2020 Hear Us Out Reality 2017 Mary Tyler Moore Valentine's Day documentaries space comedies Emmy Nominations mockumentary reviews miniseries Disney streaming service Turner Classic Movies toronto Bravo quibi BET YouTube Red breaking bad Marathons Family Columbia Pictures Opinion war Mary Poppins Returns Writers Guild of America Character Guide OWN stand-up comedy Set visit documentary docuseries travel period drama green book Animation TruTV ABC cooking television spanish language CMT book nature DC streaming service Heroines rotten movies we love dogs LGBTQ Brie Larson Certified Fresh remakes Showtime 4/20 disaster spain Walt Disney Pictures Women's History Month technology boxing Pacific Islander Comics on TV Academy Awards Lucasfilm Photos hist CBS All Access worst archives award winner blockbuster kong YouTube Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt a nightmare on elm street 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards