WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for director Eli Roth's The House with a Clock in Its Walls, in theaters now.
Although Eli Roth is famed for his gory suspense and horror movies, the director dials things down to a family level to bring John Bellairs' beloved children's novel The House with a Clock in Its Walls to the screen. The dark fantasy combines horror and comedy as it follows the orphaned Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), who's sent to live with his warlock uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) in a mysterious haunted house.
As Jonathan and his neighbor, the expert witch Florence (Cate Blanchett), attempt to determine where the house's evil original owner Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) hid a magical clock, aspiring warlock Lewis accidentally brings the late Mr. Izard back to life. That kickstarts a wild doomsday scenario in the film's final act, allowing Lewis to embrace his destiny as a defender of the light.
With Isaac on the loose, the finale focuses on the attempts by Jonathan and Florence to find the ticking clock in the walls of the mansion. Thanks to Lewis' genius, they've figured out that Isaac's death, caused by a demonic ritual, created a skeleton key that will open the clock. This clock would allow him to turn back time and, ultimately, erase humanity from existence. As they use the key and try to locate the device, Lewis rescues his nosy neighbor Mrs. Hanchett (Colleen Camp) from Isaac's attack and invites her home for protection.
Shockingly, she turns out to be Isaac's wife, Selena (Renée Elise Goldsberry), the person Jonathan believed had been sacrificed in order to make the key. It's revealed this wicked witch had helped her beloved husband, and then shape-shifted into Mrs. Hanchett so she could lie in wait and figure out how to revive her husband and open the clock. She eventually recognized Lewis' ambition to become a warlock, and tricked him into the necromancy spell that resurrected Isaac back by appearing in the boy's dreams as his dead mother. Seeing as she's been invited inside by Lewis, the magical barrier meant to keep Isaac's followers outside no longer applies, and thus, she reveals her true form. No longer needing to hide, Selena, in turn, invites the now-zombified Isaac in, and they subdue the heroes.
They then use the key and get the clock into operation, as Isaac wants to kill off everyone after the horrors he saw while serving in World War IIy. The dying soldier became disenchanted with mankind's blood lust and made a deal with a demon Azazel, who granted him life if he'd return to eliminate humanity. As a result, Isaac came back to concoct his doomsday scheme, only to die in the process. That resulted in the house passing down to this then-business partner Jonathan, who realized he had to take care of the mansion to stop whatever nefarious plot Isaac had put in place.
With that moment now coming to light, time begins to reverse and erase people from history. Lewis, however, escapes captivity and uses a magical eight-ball toy his parents gave him to stop the gears of the clock. That, in turn, creates mystical sparks of energy, which the boy -- using lessons taught to him by his uncle -- harnesses to blast Isaac and Selena to death.
Lewis then restores time, and saves the day, demonstrating to Jonathan and Florence his true potential as the world's next greatest warlock -- and someone ready to carry on the Barnavelt family legacy.
Directed by Eli Roth, The House with a Clock in Its Walls stars Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Owen Vaccaro, Renée Elise Goldsberry and Renée Elise Goldsberry. The film is out in theaters everywhere now.