Here's The Story Behind 'The House With A Clock In Its Walls,' The Fantasy Film Out This Weekend

by Christina Montoya Fiedler

Halloween is hitting the big screen early this year with the release of a new movie starring Jack Black and Kate Blanchett. It's full of eerie twists and turns and a few spooky surprises, but the story may sound familiar to moviegoers and some may be wondering if The House With A Clock In Its Walls is based on a book.

The answer is... yes! The House With A Clock In Its Walls is a best-selling young adult book written in 1973 by John Bellairs, who is known for his supernaturally themed stories, according to Penguin Random House. Bellairs even won the New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year Award and the American Library Association Children’s Books of International Interest Award for this book, according to Penguin Random House. And now, the book is a major motion picture and in theaters this weekend.

The movie (and the book) follow the life of recently orphaned Lewis Barnavelt, who is sent to live with his Uncle Jonathan (Black), according to IMDB. Lewis thinks that his new life will be ordinary, but as strange things begin to happen he realizes he is wrong. Along with next door neighbor, Mrs. Zimmermann (Blanchett), they race to find the clock in the walls — a clock that has the potential to obliterate all human kind if it goes off. And, oh yeah, everyone in the story is a magician.

The movie is just scary enough, and perfect for a young audience. In fact, director EIi Roth told Entertainment Weekly that it's extremely kid friendly, even though it's meant as a "gateway" for the horror genre. Roth is no stranger to the horror genre, having directed Cabin Fever, Hostel and Death Wish, according to the Los Angeles Times. As for the book, it might be a little spookier, because when you use your imagination, you never know what your brain will think up. But as screenwriter and producer Eric Kripke told Entertainment Weekly, the film is OK for kids:

While this movie has an incredible amount of heart and humor and there’s nothing that is going to give your kids nightmares, it does have real stakes, and it has a couple real jumps. I think if you like scary movies, you’re going to want to take your kid to this one, because this movie is sort of the gateway to them being scary-movie fans. I think this’ll be your kids’ first scary movie.

Justin Chang, a film critic from the Los Angeles Times wrote that the movie is full of "supernatural spookery — ominous spell books, shuddering tombstones, grown men and little kids shooting lightning bolts from their fingertips." This definitely sounds like something that will have both the kids' and the parent's attention.

The movie is rated PG, which means that young children should see it with an adult, and at their parent's discretion.

And if your kid likes the book and/or the movie, you might want to try something from the Goosebump series, a tried but true collection from R.L. Stine. Coincidentally, the second Goosebumps movie, Haunted Halloween, will be released in October, according to MovieWeb. And guess who stars as creepy next door neighbor? Jack Black. Indeed, it's been a good month for Black. According to Variety, not only does he have a new movie out, but he also received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Whether you decide to have your kid read the book first before seeing the movie, or vice versa, The House With A Clock In Its Walls is sure to get the whole family in the Halloween spirit.