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) 66%

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) 98%

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

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