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) 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) 100%

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

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