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27/09/18

THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS (Movie Review)




Lewis Barnavelt's life is all ajumble.

After his parents die in a car crash, the orphaned tween has to travel on his own to the little town of New Zebedee, Michigan, to meet an uncle he'd never seen before. And when they do meet, Lewis isn't altogether sure what to make of the little man dressed in a silky robe—his "ka-moan-oh," as Uncle Jonathan calls it.

"There's no bedtimes, no bathtimes or mealtimes in this house," the bearded, overly expressive fellow declares after they make their way home from the bus station. In fact, Uncle Jonathan makes it clear that chocolate-chip cookies are a fine meal, too, thank you very much. "You can eat cookies 'til you throw up, for all I care," he proclaims, smiling in the confused boy's direction.

And that's hardly the only strange thing about Lewis' new home. The old house—full of mahogany banisters, oddly moving stained glass windows, walls lined with ticking clocks and a lounge chair that makes a noise that almost sounds like a … bark?—is a curious child's wonderland. It's a crazy place that's lightly sprinkled with something approaching magic. At least, that's how Lewis sees it.

Uncle Jonathan's next-door neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, is pretty magical, too. At the very least, she's magically charming. She always dresses in purple, and she always smiles Lewis' way with a sparkle in her eye. And there's always a comical, cutting jab at Uncle Jonathan on her lips.

"I'm relieved to see that you didn't inherit your uncle's freakishly oversized head," she says with an impish grin.

"Did that withered purple skeleton just speak?" Uncle Jonathan gasps in reply.

And on and on they go.

In spite of all that, though, Lewis still isn't so sure about his current place in the world. The kids at his new school call Uncle Jonathan's house "the slaughterhouse," and they speak of murders and hauntings there. Indeed, a number of creepy things do pop up in that old, creaky, ticking place. Especially at night.

But then something even more life-changing happens, an event that tips Lewis' skewed life in a totally different direction. While answering some pointed questions, Uncle Jonathan admits that he's a … warlock. Yes, he's a male witch. He says that there was in fact a death in the house involving an evil person. And he confesses that the house has some kind of ticking doomsday clock hidden somewhere in its walls.

But biggest shock of all is this: Uncle Jonathan says that he's willing to teach young Lewis the ropes of casting magic. There are scores of books to read, facts to memorize and incantations to practice. But the most important element of all, Lewis eventually learns, will have to come from himself, completely on his own.

Maybe, just maybe, Lewis thinks, his new life won't be as bad as he first thought.

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