"The House with a Clock in its Walls": News | Reviews | Discussion

Saturday, September 22, 2018

NY Post: Roth Goes from Gore to Gorey

Johnny Oleksinsk writes in the New York Post (Sept. 20) about Eli Roth's Edward Gorey-influenced scenes and characters in his adaptation of The House with a Clock in its Walls:
The director of frightful flicks such as “Hostel” and “Death Wish” has his first family film, “The House With a Clock in Its Walls,” out Friday. The movie is based on the 1973 novel by John Bellairs with drawings by famed illustrator Edward Gorey. Interpreting that late artist’s work for the screen was a childhood dream come true for Roth, a superfan. “Edward Gorey is my favorite,” Roth tells The Post. “I have Gorey art all over my house. I’ve found original prints, original drawings of his. I knew instantly the Gothic style.”
The director channeled his enthusiasm into a giant, elaborate house, imagined with the help of production designer Jon Hutman, who also created the luxe homes for Nancy Meyers’ films.

The House

The on-screen house’s massive size and ramrod-straight lines are a throwback to that scary Gorey abode. By the way, all the rooms were created in two real Victorian homes in Georgia. One, the abandoned Candler Mansion, was built in 1922 by the co-founder of Coca-Cola.

The Décor

Hutman custom-created most of the wallpaper seen in the film, and added tiny details the naked eye can barely discern. “Embedded in the print of the wallpaper are the initials I.I.,” Hutman says. Those are the same initials of Isaac (Kyle MacLachlan), Uncle Jonathan’s rival who was the house’s previous — and evil — owner.

The Creatures

Roth latched onto Gorey’s macabre and absurd sense of humor (his book “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” is a collection of children’s deaths), rather than relying on copying the look directly. Roth’s bizarre non-human characters evoke that strange spirit.

“We have a topiary griffin that walks around … s—ting dry leaves,” Roth says. “And they’re like, ‘Bad kitty. Use the litter box.’” Another “family pet” is a dog-like armchair appropriately named Chair.

Stay for the end credits. As an Easter egg for Gorey nuts, the actors are turned into animated characters that look ripped from his books.

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