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The House with a Clock in Its Walls | 2018 | PG | – 1.5.2

content-ratingsWhy is “The House with a Clock in Its Walls” rated PG? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language.” The evaluation includes several very scary and very creepy scenes, as well as repulsive scenes with scatological and other gross content, a nude infant, and a little mild language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.

Set in 1955 and based on John Bellairs’ eponymous children’s book: A boy’s (Owen Vaccaro) parents are tragically killed in a car crash and he is sent to Michigan to live with his estranged uncle (Jack Black). After arriving he quickly learns about some special secrets his uncle has kept from the family. Also with Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Colleen Camp, Sunny Suljic, Lorenza Izzo and Vanessa Anne Williams. Directed by Eli Roth. [Running Time: 1:44]

The House with a Clock in Its Walls SEX/NUDITY 1

 – A man is shown with his adult sized head and an infant body (we see the infant’s chest, buttocks and abdomen (the genital area is obscured). Women wear low-cut dresses that reveal cleavage.
 A re-animated man kisses a woman (what looks like maggots fall off his head).
 A boy and a girl sit together and talk. A woman tells a boy that she and a man are not “kissy face.” A framed silhouette has an image of the back of a man’s head with hands wrapped around it (like two people kissing).

The House with a Clock in Its Walls VIOLENCE/GORE 5

 - A man remembers an explosion when another man was killed: we see the man being thrown in the blast and he lies on the floor with blood on his nose and drops of blood fall on the pages of a book until the man dies (his skin turns gray and his eyes go hazy).
 Two boys go to a cemetery where one finds a statue depicting death (a skeleton with a sickle) and the other jumps out to scare the first boy; they find a grave and one boy cuts his finger with a knife, places a drop of blood on a page of a spell book and recites a spell that causes the lid of the stone coffin to move, a decayed hand reaches out of the coffin and the boys run screaming. A re-animated man (with signs of decay on his flesh, gray-tinged teeth and reddened eyes) enters a house and smiles at a boy (we hear creaking and crackling as he smiles). The doors to a study close by themselves and books swirl off shelves and around a boy like birds; the boy screams and covers his head and we see bloody scratches on the backs of his hands.
 A woman transforms and we see her head and body moving unnaturally as she morphs into another woman (we hear stretching and squishing sounds and she says, "I killed her and took her place"), and then again into another woman; a dog transforms into a rat in a similar fashion. A man talks about having been left for dead and we see him stumbling through a forest alone and finding a demon (the demon has long scraggly hair, yellow eyes and long nails like claws) that helped him; the demon uses a nail to cut a slash on the man's hand and it glows as the demon uses its forked tongue to lick the wound (presumably giving the man dark powers).
 A man, a woman and a boy are attacked by animated jack-o-lanterns, they snap at the people and one vomits pumpkin goo and seeds on a man's face while others make a pool of the goo around their feet trapping them in it as it congeals and the woman shoots several of them with her umbrella. A man and a woman are shown falling toward the spinning cogs of a giant clock and they disappear leaving their clothes behind. A large topiary griffin bounds toward three people and slams into a door roaring as they close it behind them. A boy is suspended in a cage over many long swords with the blades pointing up; the chord is cut and the cage falls but the boy is saved. A woman sprays a gas into a room where there are many animated dolls/mannequins and we hear them fall to the floor and wind down as if they are dying. An upholstered chair is shown torn and with its stuffing strewn around a room (the chair moans like a wounded animal); it is shown later repaired but with a large scar across it. A giant snake attacks a woman and wraps around her (we see her OK later). An animated doll grabs a boy's leg as he walks by and the boy hits it with a hammer breaking its head. Many jack-o-lanterns are shown chopped up and one is left with an axe in it. A boy searches through a house at night and finds a man with an axe pounding on a wall; the boy screams and runs to his room, packs a suitcase and tries to leave the house but an armchair moves back and forth in front of the door blocking his path. A boy wakes up to loud thumping noises in a house and leaves his room to find a man with a flashlight listening to the walls; a cuckoo clock chimes and the head of a devil pops out of the clock toward the boy, scaring him. A boy imagines his mother in his room (she is dead) and they hug and talk in several scenes. A passage through a large stone mouth with teeth opens and a man crawls through it to find a hidden room. A boy unlocks a cabinet where a book of dark magic is held; another boy panics and returns the book to the cabinet and locks it again. A stained glass window scene shows three open coffins with the skeletal remains of three people. A woman breaks a chain wrapped around her and a man, and she shoots an energy blast out of her umbrella and uses the open umbrella to deflect a bright light that was shown on the man and burned his face. Three people are grabbed and held by animated dolls/mannequins and they scream and struggle. A man touches a bone key to his and a woman's hands and we see drops of blood. An upholstered chair with a chainsaw chases a giant topiary griffin with closing credits (no contact is shown).
 When a spell is set in motion, we see things crumble to dust, and when people are struck with a flash of energy they revert to their younger selves; one man is shown with a man's head and an infant body. A man stops on a sidewalk almost as if in a trance and listens as a clock tower sounds the time. Objects in a house move on their own and animate randomly (a chair moves around and makes noise like an animal, mannequin-type dolls animate and move and talk, the scene in a stained glass window changes). Many objects and mannequin-type dolls move around a room and seem agitated as a man watches and says, "That's not creepy." A mannequin-type doll has a head that looks like a depiction of a red devil with horns. A man's house looks scary from the outside with a large gate and many jack-o-lanterns lining the sidewalk. There are many clocks in a man's home. A rat crawls through a hole in a wall of a house. A boy sees framed silhouettes on a wall and we see one collection representing violent acts with weapons (an ax and a knife). We see a decayed human hand in a display case, we see human and animal skulls on book shelves and desks and skeletons of small animals in a study. A giant snake tries to push open a door and a man closes it. A man conjures a ball of flames and throws it into a furnace. A boy practices magic and turns a furry cat into a hairless, multicolored cat. A boy practices magic and levitates a man off the floor (the man yells and flails). A boy makes water in a drinking fountain spray in another boy's face and other children laugh. A boy redirects electricity and throws it into an arm chair that quivers and is thrown out of the room. A teddy bear is shown charred and smoldering after a boy practices magic. A man yells and punches a table near ears of corn on display and the corn pops. A man pounds a counter in a candy shop/soda fountain and gumballs spray out of jars. A magic trick shows a woman in a cage suspended over many long swords pointed upward; the cage falls and the woman is seen to be unharmed as she walks onto the stage. A woman holds a snake wrapped around her arm.
 A boy shoves another boy into a locker room, threatens to break his arms and punches him in the stomach; the other boy falls to the floor. Several boys shove each other in a school hallway. A boy is struck in the head with a basketball and falls to the floor. A boy throws a basketball and hits another boy in the abdomen. A woman uses a coat rack to a push a man through a transom window and he yells when she pushes on his crotch. A boy bounces a basketball that hits two other boys in the faces knocking them unconscious.
 A boy yells and pounds on a woman's front door; when she opens the door he screams that she has to leave the house and that she is in danger. A man yells angrily at a boy and the boy cries when the man says the boy has to leave. A boy yells at another boy and pounds on a chain link fence. A woman yells at a man for playing the saxophone at 3:00 AM. We hear about the death of a boy's parents in a car crash. A boy cries when thinking about his parents having died in a car crash. A woman tells a man, "Choke and die." A man tells a boy, "Knock 'em dead." A woman talks about her parents' death. There are several rapid fire name-calling sessions between a man and a woman. A boy refers to a house as "The slaughterhouse" and says that it is haunted and that "some old guy died in there." An animated stained glass window picture of a cowboy writes "Don't go" using a lasso. A boy asks a man, "Are you gonna axe-murder me?" A man honks the horn of his car and yells for a boy who seems embarrassed. A woman tells a boy, "Fetch a knife and stab me in the ears" when a man plays the saxophone badly. A dog whimpers when a man plays a saxophone badly. A man yells at a griffin topiary, "Bad kitty." Two boys talk about necromancy and raising the dead. We hear that a man was MIA in Germany after WWII and that his entire platoon was killed. A woman talks about a blood magic spell that killed a man and turned his wife into a bone key. A woman is shown with a number tattooed on her arm (presumably from a Nazi concentration camp). A woman talks about having been hurt badly and that she never recovered emotionally. A re-animated man speaks with a distorted voice in one scene.
 A gym scene shows boys choosing teams for basketball and two boys are left; one boy is new to school and wears aviator goggles and the other wears braces on his legs and uses two crutches (the boy with crutches is chosen and we hear the coach call him "speedy" during the game). A boy is shown with a cast on his arm in a few scenes.
 A large griffin topiary moves through a garden and blows leaves and goo out of its anus when it flatulates and defecates, and a man makes a remark about the smell; one time the leaves and goo are sprayed on a boy's head and face. A boy makes a concentrating face and a man says, "It looks like you're pooping." A man, after being transformed into an infant, urinates (we see the stream). A woman says, "Look what the cat threw up." A man says, "I wet my pants."

The House with a Clock in Its Walls LANGUAGE 2

 - 1 scatological term (a man addresses a woman by name, Mrs. Hanchett, and it sounds like a scatological term), 5 mild obscenities, name-calling (old hag, freakishly oversized head, boy witch, scaredy cat, shriveled old prune, dumb baby orangutan, reckless idiot, coward, nasty, weirdo, crazy people, old grandma, weird, purple pachyderm, yeti, lousy liar, jerk, little runt, evil coot, black sheep, black swan, normal, terrible, awful, bad, withering purple skeleton, speedy, the slaughterhouse, scarecrow, frumpy, ankle biter), exclamations (shut-up, oh my giddy aunt), 6 religious exclamations (e.g. Oh God, God, Good Lord, Unholy Ritual, Oh My God). | profanity glossary |

The House with a Clock in Its Walls SUBSTANCE USE

 - None.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls DISCUSSION TOPICS

 - Death of parents, magic, rules, friendship, fitting in, danger, bravery, witches, the Brothers Grimm, judgment day, practical jokes, warlocks, abandonment, necromancy.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls MESSAGE

 - Always keep moving forward. All one needs is one good friend.


Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.

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