Directed by horror virtuoso Eli Roth, fantasy adventure “The House with a Clock in its Walls” stars Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett as a pair of magically-inclined neighbors who, with the help of a young orphan, try to prevent an evil wizard from destroying the world. Based on the classic children’s book of the same name. the film from Amblin Entertainment follows the production company’s tradition of juxtaposing extraordinary events and unexpected places, with a nostalgia-evoking aesthetic. To create the film’s rich look, Roth reteamed with cinematographer Rogier Stoffers and EFILM senior colorist Mitch Paulson, having previously collaborated on 2018’s vigilante action thriller “Death Wish.”
Roth explained, “I wanted to go for a classic Amblin look. A mix between Amblin, Tim Burton, and Terry Gilliam. Rogier said, ‘we have to get Mitch and that he can really help give it the look that we want.’ We talk with Mitch and show him the references that we want.”
The project provided the unique opportunity for Roth to bring his trademark sense of mischief and fright to a children’s film. Keeping a younger audience in mind, Paulson found subtle ways to help Roth deliver scares, like making the antagonists’ eyes pop with a creepy white using rotoscope. In some instances, the color finish assisted in dialing back the scares, such as increasing the orange of pumpkin innards, which initially appeared too red and blood-like.
For Paulson, the project continued his long-standing creative relationship with Stoffers, dating back to 2013’s “The Vow.” Pauslon noted, “Rogier is an excellent cinematographer and collaborating with him is always a pleasure. The same goes for Eli; he had a very clear vision for the look but was also open to experimenting with different approaches. It was a very smooth process and the final result is quite visually striking.”
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