Filmmaker Eli Roth has never shied away from depicting gruesome violence in his films, making many fans wonder how he would handle the PG-rated The House with a Clock in Its Walls. Roth confirmed that it wasn't necessarily having to restrain himself that was a challenge, but working with limited time using child actors and creating such a fantastical world on a relatively small budget were much trickier to manage.
"All the resources went into the look and design and style of the film. That was the biggest challenge, shooting with children because the hours that you get to shoot them with," Roth admitted to ComicBook.com. "I remember the scene where [Owen Vaccaro's Lewis Barnavelt] wandering around the library, he sort of realizes that Jonathan's a warlock and Jonathon shows him. I remember that was a three or four-page scene and I think I had two hours to shoot it. Two and a half hours. One of the crew guys was like 'You know, it's so unfair that you only have ... This is a scene you could spend two days shooting.' I was like 'No, no, no!'"
He continued, "I did this to myself. This is what I wanted. I want to pull all this other stuff and the Griffin and that's expensive. So, luckily you have Jack Black and Owen Vaccaro who are such good actors, they nailed it. And I was like, 'Whoa, what if I just follow them around the room with the camera?' They nailed it! We actually got it done in the time we had."
In the film, Lewis goes to live with his Uncle Jonathan (Black) in a creaky and creepy mansion with an eerie tick-tocking heart. But when Lewis soon finds out he’s in the presence of magic practiced by his uncle and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), his new town’s dreary aura boosts to life in an exciting and dangerous way.
While the film is absolutely a horror film for young audiences, Roth never felt any instinctive reaction to push boundaries for the kid-friendly adventure.
"You're not gonna try and shoot stuff R-rated," the filmmaker noted. "You can push it a little far but I replaced chopping off heads with chopping pumpkins in half and spraying guts with spraying orange pumpkin vomit. That was the fun of it. And using the automatons and you're really just sort of watching
He added, "I'm very proud that I made a movie that there's not a single swear in the film. There's nothing. No nudity. There's no swearing. And it still gives you the thrills."
Roth's The House with a Clock in Its Walls is out now on Digital HD and lands on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, and DVD on December 18th.
How do you think Roth did at injecting horror into the family-friendly film? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!