Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams, Sunny Suljic
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Fantasy horror directed by Eli Roth in which the story follows of 10-year-old Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), who after losing his parents, is sent to Michigan to live with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.
Best Quotes (Total Quotes: 25)
[first lines; we see Jonathan writing a letter to Lewis]
Jonathan Barnavelt: [voice over] Dear Lewis, enclosed please find one bus ticket and two silver dollars for your trip to Michigan. I’m really sorry about the loss of your parents. Your mom was my sister, so, that makes you family. And I’ll do my best to make you feel right at home. As Einstein said, “Life is like a bicycle. To stay balanced, you got to keep moving forward.” And so will we. I look forward to meeting you. Your uncle, Jonathan. P.S., sorry for the stain on the letter, that’s chocolate.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Lewis, I’m your uncle Jonathan.
Lewis Barnavelt: Are you wearing a robe?
Jonathan Barnavelt: It’s a kimono.
[pulls up in front of his house]
Jonathan Barnavelt: Alright, here we are. You can get out here. Here we go.
[Lewis looks at the house, which has Halloween pumpkins outside the gates]
Jonathan Barnavelt: Home sweet home.
Lewis Barnavelt: Do you like Halloween?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Hm? Oh, no. I keep those up year round.
Florence Zimmerman: Hello. You’re Lewis, I presume? How was your trip?
Jonathan Barnavelt: This old hag is my next-door neighbor, Mrs. Florence Zimmerman.
Florence Zimmerman: I’m relieved to see you didn’t inherit your uncle’s freakishly oversized head.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Huh. Says the woman who literally looks like a Q-tip.
Florence Zimmerman: Oh, look. The giant head is angry.
Jonathan Barnavelt: My God, did that withered purple skeleton just speak?
Lewis Barnavelt: It’s nice to meet you.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Lewis, are you hungry?
Lewis Barnavelt: Yes, please.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Florence, I’m going to show Lewis to his room. For once in your life, could you make yourself useful and whip up a batch of those chocolate chip cookies?
Florence Zimmerman: And how would you like them, sir? Stuffed down your throat, one by one? Or crumbled up and shoved into your pants?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Ignore her, Lewis. She thinks she’s smarter than me because she’s got more college degrees.
Florence Zimmerman: No, I think I’m smarter than you because I’m smarter than you.
Lewis Barnavelt: But, Uncle Jonathan, don’t I have to have dinner before I’m allowed to have cookies?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Well, why not just eat cookies for dinner? They’re far more delicious.
Lewis Barnavelt: I know. It’s just, we had these house rules.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Well, not in this house. There’s no bedtime, bath time or meal time. You can eat cookies till you throw up for all I care. You’ll see. Things are quite different here.
[Lewis is having a bad dream]
Mother: I’m sorry, sweetheart, but you’re in danger.
Lewis Barnavelt: Danger? What danger? What do you mean?
Mother: You’re going to have to be brave.
Lewis Barnavelt: But I… Mom, this is me. I’m not brave.
Mother: First you get the book, then you get the key.
Lewis Barnavelt: Book? Key? What are you talking about?
Mother: Do you hear the ticking?
Lewis Barnavelt: Is this place haunted? Are you going to ax murder me?
Jonathan Barnavelt: What? No.
Lewis Barnavelt: You’re going to ax murder me, aren’t you?
Jonathan Barnavelt: I’m not going to ax murder you.
Lewis Barnavelt: Then what is going on?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Well, one thing’s for sure. The house likes you.
Lewis Barnavelt: Houses don’t like anything. They’re houses.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Do you know what a warlock is, Lewis?
Lewis Barnavelt: It’s a boy witch.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Well, I think they’re a little more than boy witches.
Lewis Barnavelt: “Warlock. Noun. A man who practices magic.” A boy witch. Are you saying that you’re a warlock?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Would it scare you if I was?
Lewis Barnavelt: Well, are you a good warlock or a bad one?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Ah. Depends on what you mean by bad. I’m nice, but not that good. Just a parlor magician, really. But, uh, Mrs. Zimmerman, now she’s nice and good. Damn good. Got a doctor of magic quorum degree from the University of Göttingen.
Lewis Barnavelt: What’s that ticking in the walls?
Jonathan Barnavelt: You’ve heard that? This house used to be owned by another warlock. Isaac Izard and his wife, Selena. He, uh, passed away, and left a magic clock in the walls.
Lewis Barnavelt: Why?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Because he’s a terrible… joker. A practical joker. Put a clock in the walls to drive me nuts. I try to drown it out with all those other clocks, but it doesn’t really work. So at night I go around the house and search for the damn thing.
Lewis Barnavelt: With an ax?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Sometimes I get over-enthused. I’ll admit that.
Lewis Barnavelt: Do you have to be born a boy wi… A warlock?
Jonathan Barnavelt: No. Anyone can learn, if they study, practice hard enough.
Lewis Barnavelt: Can I learn?
Jonathan Barnavelt: No.
Lewis Barnavelt: But you just said anyone.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Grown-up anyone. There’s charts, and hieroglyphs, and stuff that would stump a Harvard professor. And I don’t have time to teach a…
Lewis Barnavelt: Please? Please. Please teach me. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Okay! Have it your way.
Lewis Barnavelt: Am I going to have to defeat an evil spirit one day?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Oh, don’t worry. Not for a long, long time. You’re perfectly safe.
[just then a monster with tentacle opens a door]
Lewis Barnavelt: That’s safe?
[Jonathan throws some food at it and quickly closes the door]
Jonathan Barnavelt: As long as it’s fed. It used to be Florence’s pet garter snake, William Snakespeare. She tried to turn it purple and the spell backfired. And, between you and me, most of her spells backfire these days.
Lewis Barnavelt: Why?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Ah, you’ll have to ask her that one yourself.
Florence Zimmerman: So, you’ve told Lewis everything?
Jonathan Barnavelt: Well, not everything.
Florence Zimmerman: I think you should. Isaac may be dead, but he is still dangerous. If Lewis knew the truth…
Jonathan Barnavelt: Well, we don’t know the truth. We don’t know where the clock is, or what it does, except something horrible. No, we got to do the responsible thing. Lie to the kid.
Jonathan Barnavelt: So, I can give you the right books, teach you the right spells, but that last one percent, that’s up to you.
Lewis Barnavelt: So, how do I find my magic style, or whatever it is?
Jonathan Barnavelt: It’s in there somewhere. You just have to quiet down and listen.
[Lewis closes his eyes and screws up his face]
Jonathan Barnavelt: Now it looks like you’re pooping.
Lewis Barnavelt: Well, I don’t know! This all feels weird.
Florence Zimmerman: What’s wrong with weird? Weird’s like the nuts in my cookies, it’s the nuts that make things interesting.
[to Lewis as Jonathan is playing the saxaphone]
Florence Zimmerman: Be a dear, fetch a knife and stab me in the ears.
Lewis Barnavelt: Uncle Jonathan, you’re way more than just a parlor magician.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Have a look around.
[Lewis looks in wonder at the stars and planets his uncle has conjured up with his magic]
Jonathan Barnavelt: Finally. A smile. I was starting to think you were incapable.
[referring to the clock]
Jonathan Barnavelt: Three gongs, Florence. Last time it was four, now it’s three. What happens when it gets down to one?
Florence Zimmerman: We’ll hide in the basement like sensible people.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Okay, this is no time for jokes. Things have changed.
Florence Zimmerman: I know. Lewis.
Jonathan Barnavelt: What happens if he’s here when it goes off?
Florence Zimmerman: He won’t be. Because we are going to find it. We just have to hold it together.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Okay.
Florence Zimmerman: Isaac was an orphan, and Jonathan, a runaway. Neither of them had family. All they had was magic and each other. Then, Isaac went away to war. He was fighting in Germany when he went MIA. Months passed. Then, suddenly, Isaac came back home. But it wasn’t the same Isaac. He was different, and angry, and more powerful than any warlock had the right to be.
Lewis Barnavelt: How? What happened to him?
Florence Zimmerman: We don’t know. All he said was, he was lost in the Black Forest. Now, that is a very old place with very old magic. It’s where the Brothers Grimm wrote their histories.
Lewis Barnavelt: You mean their fairy-tales?
Florence Zimmerman: Now, we think that Isaac met a dark warlock in those woods. A teacher who gave him some terrifying forbidden books. One of which is so dangerous that your uncle keeps it locked up in his cabinet. Then Isaac abandoned poor Jonathan. No explanation. And he found himself a witch. Selena. So spiteful and mean, he married her, and they locked themselves away in the house. Until one night last year, Isaac performed a blood magic ritual that killed him.
Lewis Barnavelt: What was the ritual for?
Florence Zimmerman: To make a key. A clock key of human bone. We think his wife’s bones. We think Isaac killed Selena to make it.
Lewis Barnavelt: Uncle Jonathan said that you were a really good witch. Even better than him.
Florence Zimmerman: I was, once. My magic was the toast of Paris. You should’ve seen me before the war. I melted Salvador Dali’s watch one time, right off his wrist.
Lewis Barnavelt: Then why can’t you help us?
Florence Zimmerman: You know how magic comes from the inside?
[Lewis nods his head]
Florence Zimmerman: Well, I got hurt one time. Pretty badly. And even though my outsides got better, my insides never did. And so, now every time I try to work any real magic, it just comes out broken. Now, there’s very few problems in the world that can’t, at least, be helped by a good chocolate chip cookie.
[she places a plate of cookies in front of Lewis]
Jonathan Barnavelt: What are you doing here? I told you it’s not safe!
Lewis Barnavelt: I was being indomitable.
Florence Zimmerman: I suppose you were, weren’t you?
Lewis Barnavelt: You can’t do this alone. You need help, and I can help you!
Jonathan Barnavelt: No, you can’t!
Lewis Barnavelt: Actually, I can. Because I know how to read this. But I’m going to need some Ovaltine.
Jonathan Barnavelt: It’s a doomsday clock. In a way, it destroys everything, but not by ending the world, but sending it back to the beginning. If the planet is one giant clock, then this damn thing is the winder. He’s winding it back to the very beginning of time!
Florence Zimmerman: So, everything goes in reverse. We grow younger and younger until we vanish, until there’s no one left.
Jonathan Barnavelt: I knew Isaac was strong, but this goes beyond anything I ever thought he was capable of.
[as they are fighting with the live Halloween pumpkins]
Florence Zimmerman: God, I hate pumpkins.
Jonathan Barnavelt: Even in death, so creepy.
[referring to Lewis as they are picking out kids to join their basketball team]
Tarby Corrigan: I don’t want the creepy little runt.
Woody Mingo: You think I want him?
Lewis Barnavelt: You know what, fellas, I don’t really want to play anyways.
[he takes the ball and whispers a spell]
Lewis Barnavelt: Ball to the face at a very high speed pace.
[Lewis throws the ball down, the ball hits the two boys in the face and then go through the basketball hoop]
Lewis Barnavelt: Lucky shot.
Clark: We want Lewis on our team!
Total Quotes: 25
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