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 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.


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) 97%

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) 97%

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

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