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The House with a Clock in its Walls is the sort of movie that hopes to offer tension and scares, but of a sort that the whole family can enjoy. It largely harkens back to an early era of film, where movies like Gremlins and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial did something very similar. It's very fitting then that Clock is actually an Amblin Entertainment production, the company run by Steven Spielberg which also produced some of those 80s classics. Spielberg himself has seen the new movie, and according to director Eli Roth, Spielberg thinks the film captures the spirit of those films and carries the torch for a new generation. According to Roth...
A generation or two of directors have cut their teeth on Steven Spielberg movies. As kids, they saw Gremlins and The Goonies and films of that ilk and for somebody like Eli Roth, it was a gateway to real horror movies. It has to be special to hear Steven Spielberg himself tell you that your movie captures the spirit of those beloved classics without being derivative.
Eli Roth is generally known for the types of horror movies that would make most adults' stomach churn. The sorts of movies you'd never let your kids see. However, A House with a Clock in its Walls is rated PG, and while it's not without its scares, they are likely of the sort that only kids will actually find all that scary. Perhaps he has made the sort of movie that the younger generation can enjoy, and enjoy being scared by, getting them to check out darker horror movies as they get older.
As we get closer to Halloween the desire for all types of horror, from the mild to the terrifying is going to increase, and it will be nice for families to have movies like The House with a Clock in its Walls.
Of course, as Eli Roth says in his statement to Entertainment Weekly, it will be interesting to see how audiences feel about the movie. If this generation of kids hasn't seen a movie like this, then there's no guarantee this generation will like a movie like this. We'll find out this weekend.