Actor Jack Black and filmmaker Eli Roth are set to take on an adaptation of The House With a Clock in Its Walls. The children’s book was published in 1973 by author John Bellairs and is part of an ongoing series of novels involving the adventures of Lewis Barnavelt, who is sent to live with his uncle in the fictional town of New Zebedee, Michigan, after his parents are killed in a car accident. Like much of Bellairs’ work, The House With a Clock in Its Walls was illustrated by the comically dark and inimitable Gothic touch of Edward Gorey.
Though he’s also no stranger to tales of the twisted and macabre, The House With a Clock in Its Walls will mark the first time that Roth has stepped out of the R-rated world to create something that is possibly a little more family friendly. Black on the other hand, seems to be the go-to choice as of late for these sorts of projects, having appeared in 2015’s Goosebumps adaptation, the upcoming Jumanji reboot, and the Goosebumps sequel, Goosebumps: Horrorland.
As reported by Deadline, the film is written by Supernatural and Timeless creator Eric Kripke, making this a foray back into feature films for the writer and producer. At present there is no word as to when The House With a Clock in Its Walls will go into production or what sort of release date the studio is aiming for.
The first in a 12 book series, The House With a Clock in Its Walls follows Lewis Barnavelt as he explores the secret passageways within the walls of his uncle’s home. Inside these passageways is magic and mayhem and Lewis soon discovers that a sinister clock is hidden within, placed there by the home’s previous owners, a black magic practicing couple that schemed to destroy the world. As the clock ticks down, doomsday draws ever nearer – unless of course, Lewis can find it and put a stop to it. Though it’s still not clear which character Black would play, the smart bet would be on him taking the role of Lewis’ uncle, Jonathan Barnavelt, a kind but ultimately somewhat unexceptional warlock.
It will certainly be interesting to see Roth tame down his love for horror and gore in order to create a film that likely will be aiming for a somewhat younger demographic. With Black along for the ride, there’s every reason to believe that this will be a tale tinged with some goofy elements, though putting Roth and Black together could end up bringing about something a little darker than the likes of Goosebumps or Jumanji. There’s also plenty of potential here for a franchise if the initial chapter should find an audience – and given both Roth and Black’s past successes, that prospect is very much a possibility.
Of course, The House With a Clock in Its Walls isn’t a new series, meaning that it might not have the sort of built in audience that previous, newer book to film adaptations often enjoy. Still, a good story is a timeless one and with Roth and Black behind this, fans of the original book as well as those unfamiliar with it might all find themselves delighted when the film arrives in theaters.
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