Eli Roth to Direct Jack Black in ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’
2015 seems like forever ago — we were all so clean then, so innocent and unaware — but it hasn’t been all that long since Jack Black starred in the big-screen adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps chapter books. Though the movie itself was pretty middling, Black had gobs of fun as Stine himself, playing the noted kiddie-horror writer as a Vincent Price-esque Gothic weirdo. And it would now seem that Black had a good time with his foray into horror from his comedy home, as some wise casting director has obliged him with a high-profile new gig that should send him deeper into the genre.
Deadline got the exclusive that Jack Black would star in the upcoming chiller The House With a Clock in Its Walls, and get a brand-name director in gore stalwart Eli Roth. The film will adapt a 1973 spooky-scary picture book from John Bellairs, about a plucky 10-year-old who moves to the hamlet of New Zebedee in Michigan, only to find out his new home contains untold magicks. That mysterious, oddly mannered uncle he’s staying with? Yeah, he’s a warlock. (That’ll be Black, natch.) And the weird old lady across the way, she’s a witch. They’ll cook up a cauldron’s worth of trouble in the most child-friendly movie about a haunted mansion since The Haunted Mansion.
Sounds like it could be amusing, though Roth’s inclusion on the project raises an eyebrow. This is the guy who gave us Hostel, who directed a sadistically violent trailer for a nonexistent film just to have a laugh, the man most moviegoers most readily recognize as Inglourious Basterds’ skullcrushing Bear Jew. I cannot for the life of me imagine what a PG-rated Eli Roth movie would be like. Roth without severed limbs and floods of dark red corn syrup is like Wes Anderson without symmetry or Paul Feig without Melissa McCarthy — what’s left?