Eli Roth isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of the ideal director to helm a whimsical family fantasy, but you could definitely make the argument that The House with a Clock in Its Walls is his best ever effort from behind the camera.
The filmmaker broke through at the turn of the millennium and was one of the driving forces behind the torture porn craze, moving from his breakout feature Cabin Fever to the first two installments in the Hostel series. He then went full meta for a while, directing Grindhouse trailer Thanksgiving and film within a film Nation’s Pride for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, before returning with Italian cannibal cinema homage The Green Inferno and Keanu Reeves thriller Knock Knock.
It’s been a wild and crazy road for Roth to get to this stage of his career, and after moving into more studio-friendly territory with the Death Wish remake starring Bruce Willis, he landed the $42 million adaptation of John Bellairs’ 1973 novel. While not perfect by any means, The House with a Clock in Its Walls surprised a lot of people in just how well the man famed for his typically gory trappings made the jump into kid-friendly humor and fantastical set pieces.
It helps that the movie boasts two standout turns from Jack Black and Cate Blanchett as well, though it only managed to pull in about $131 million at the box office, which was decent but nothing to write home about, and it quickly faded away after its theatrical run. Now, however, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is rocketing up the Netflix most-watched list, having jumped over 30 places since yesterday to fifteenth position, and it’s currently got the Top 10 in its sights.