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Eli Roth's The House with a Clock in Its Walls ticks up the strange scares in first trailer

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Mar 27, 2018, 11:54 AM EDT

There's no denying that Eli Roth is a specialist in horror, but his previous films like HostelCabin Fever, and The Green Inferno may be a little too graphic and gory for the mainstream consumer. Nevertheless, they allowed him to hone his craft in the genre and now, the director is on a streak of more commercially friendly movies. Earlier this month, MGM released his remake of Death Wish with Bruce Willis, and while it wasn't critically acclaimed, it proved that Roth is capable of crafting a more approachable cinematic experience. In that same vein, his next project hitting theaters will be The House with a Clock in Its Walls, an adaptation of John Bellairs 1973 novel of the same name. 

Universal Pictures released the first trailer today and it looks to be a perfect melding of the director's horror sensibilities and his newly found sense of commercialism. While watching it, you'll be reminded of steampunk, Harry Potter, Tim Burton, Monster House, Martin Scorsese's Hugo, and Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium all at the same time. Take a look for yourself below:

Co-produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, The House with a Clock in Its Walls tells the story of young Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), who comes to live with his eccentric uncle Jonathan Barnavelt (Jack Black), only to find that the house is alive and filled with a number of scary creatures. In the trailer alone, there are living jack-o'-lanterns, moving paintings, and a mysterious tentacled monster living in one of the closets. 

Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok) co-stars as Mrs. Zimmerman, Jonathan's neighbor and a practicing witch. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) will play the original owner of the house, Isaac Izard, a man who dedicated his life to black magic in order to bring about the end of the world. The titular clock is a special one, placed somewhere in the walls by Izard himself. The more it ticks, the more it brings the world into magical alignment, making it easier for Izard to trigger the apocalypse. Pretty dark stuff for a children's book if you stop and think about it. To top things off perfectly, the script was penned by Supernatural and Timeless creator Erik Kripke. 

All in all, the trailer offers enough magic, wonder, and scary thrills that add up to what looks like a very promising movie and perhaps even a budding franchise. Take a look at the first poster. 


The House with a Clock in Its Walls creaks open Sept. 21. Head on down to the gallery below to see some production stills from the film.