About a year ago, we learned that Eli Roth had signed on to direct an adaptation of John Bellairs' classic YA horror novel, The House With A Clock In Its Walls, and ... well, let's be honest: despite the quality of the source material, a truly impressive cast (which includes Jack Black, Kyle McLachlan and Cate Blanchett) and the fact that Roth would be making the film for Amblin Entertainment, we were skeptical. Eli Roth? Doing an effects-heavy, family-friendly horror film? We were not what you'd call "overflowing with confidence".
Cut to: today. The very first trailer for The House With A Clock In Its Walls has arrived, and, well, what can we say? This thing looks pretty damn cool.
See if you don't agree:
This looks like it could be pretty great, right? Jack Black isn't mugging for the camera, the effects look accomplished and interesting (and, most importantly, legitimately spooky) and Cate Blanchett is ... well, she's Cate Blanchett; her presence alone is a selling point. We'll admit it: we're far more excited about The House With A Clock In Its Walls than we were when it was announced.
For those unfamiliar with the source material, here's a plot synopsis:
"In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town's sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead."
"Family friendly" is not a term we typically associate with Roth (whose recent Death Wish remake failed to please just about anyone, and whose previous films have trafficked in some seriously gnarly material), but what if it turns out Eli Roth is really, really good at kid-friendly horror? What if that's been the missing ingredient all along? What if The House With A Clock In Its Walls is a pleasant surprise, a la Goosebumps (the other kid-friendly horror film starring Jack Black that we were too quick to dismiss back in 2015)? Stranger things have happened.
Look at this: even the poster's great.
Speaking as a fan of the source material and of this particular sub-genre, I'm hyped to see what Roth's done with this adaptation (it could, in fact, lead to a whole franchise: Bellairs wrote a number of YA horror novels revolving around the character of Lewis Barnavelt). Fingers crossed that this one delivers.
What about you folks? You feeling this as much as we are, or are you still skeptical? Sound off in the comments below, and stay tuned for more as we draw ever closer to The House With A Clock In Its Walls' arrival on September 21st. We're very excited to see more on this one.