The title inspires a movie about a haunted house, peculiar residents, and unusual activities. I guess its idea is to be interesting and scary. However this particular case demonstrates special effects above other qualities. Directed by Eli Roth, it stars Jack Black as Jonathan Barnavelt, an eccentric who wears a purple outfit and suspenders, and who adopts his nephew Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) after the parents are killed in car crash. Into his new home Lewis goes and meets Jonathan’s neighbor Florence (Cate Blanchett) who pops out of a standing clock. Why she was there is not important because by this time, the house captivates with its decorations and numerous clocks ticking away. There is one house-rule for Lewis which is to never touch a certain book. But otherwise the boy may go where he pleases and eat whatever he wants. Then one night, Lewis hears a loud banging and goes downstairs to an artifact room where he spies on Jonathan who is listening to the wall and attempting to break through using an axe. It terrifies him and Lewis rushes back to his room. The next day, Jonathan reveals that he is a warlock and that there is a clock inside the house walls that he must find .
The film is adapted from a teen novel written by John Bellairs, and it should work fine for younger crowds. Although Black and Blanchett don’t create memorable performances, the characters and events are unusual and amusing . Lewis carries a black sphere that has a mind of its own and provides him valuable clues. There is a lot of magic such as when Jonathan and Lewis practice casting spells. However there is a curious lack of momentum and the reason, I think, is because the villain reveals himself much later and therefore the story lacks conflict and direction for a lot of the time. The stakes are unknown for about three quarters of the movie. Instead there is a side plot about Lewis adjusting to his new school and attempting to win favor from a popular classmate Tarby (he tries to impress Tarby with talks of magic and there is a concerning moment when they begin touching things around the house without permission). Otherwise this isn’t a particularly scary and interesting movie for the older viewers it could have captured. It’ll keep you entertained up to a certain point.