Okay, so the horror film genre is definitely
the "in" thing at the moment. There's no denying it. The question
is, can someone do a horror film that is impressive and unique without simply
being a remake? HOUSE OF WAX may not be the most original
screenplay to come along in years, but it does present a decent take on the
horror film genre. I mean lets face it, wax museums have always been
just a tad creepy by nature. Take that established theme, and build a
horror film around it, surely it has to work on some levels, right?.
Elisha Cuthbert knows how to
OF WAX begins with a vague flashback from 1974, showing us a mother and
father with their two young boys. No faces are shown, but we see that
one of the boys is calm and collected, while the other one behaves like a
little monster. Cut to present day, where a group of young people are
preparing to take a road trip so they can see the most "important game of the
year." The gang consists of Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and her boyfriend
Wade (Jared Padalecki), Carly's belligerent brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray)
and his buddy Dalton (Jon Abrahams), and Blake (Robert Ri'chard) and his
girlfriend Paige (Paris Hilton). Nick has a hate on for Wade, though he
himself has a pretty dark past, and seems like an unwelcome addition to the
trip. Blake seems to only be interested in making out with Paige, that
is whenever he's not obsessing over his sweet ride. Dalton spends almost
all of his time filming members of the group with his video camera, in true
voyeuristic fashion. Carly and Wade just want to have a good time.
On the way to "the game" they run into a detour, which takes them off the map
into a wooded area. There they decide to camp for the night.
Things seem fine until a guy in a pick-up truck shows up, watching them from a
distance, and eventually leaves after they've been disturbed by his presence.
The next day Wade's car ends up out of commission through mysterious
circumstances. After finding a strange pile of stinky dead animals,
Carly and Wade hitch a ride with a creepy dude who takes them to a small town
on the other side of the forest. This town looks like it's stuck in the
past, and they begin to wonder what they've walked into. Wade persuades
Carly to check out the local House of Wax, which is filled with strange wax
figures, none of whom seem to be recognizable. While in town they meet a
local gas station attendant, who seems pretty helpful at first. It isn't
long before they realize this town isn't at all what it appears to be, and
their lives may very well be in danger.
movie harkens back to the day of 1980's slasher films like FRIDAY THE 13th.
Perhaps the most stand-out aspect of the movie is it's consistent use of
in-your-face gore. The inevitable death scenes are extremely violent,
and graphically depicted. Plus they're creative deaths, which keeps us
wondering how the next person will buy it. The best quality however lies
in the film's storytelling, which thankfully never forces any scare on us.
In this day of cheesy horror films that try so hard to build up a manufactured
jump from the audience, this flick is just scary as it is. The
performances are pretty good on the whole. I must admit I'm a bit biased
when it come to Elisha Cuthbert. Heck, I could watch that girl pour tar
for two hours and not get bored. She looks good here, regardless of the
situation. Plus her acting is spot on. Cuthbert never seems
overconfident, or clichéd. She just works. Jared Padalecki does a
pretty good job as Wade, although there are more than a few frustrating
moments in the story where his character is just way too nosy for his own
good. It's the kind of thing that makes you wonder why this guy wouldn't
be more concerned that someone would be watching him as he snoops around.
Chad Michael Murray is pretty good as the flawed brother character, and
delivers some nice moments when least expected. The rest of the
supporting cast does pretty well, even if they're just going through the
motions with the script.
talk about Paris Hilton. I must admit, I thought she'd be the kiss of
death for the film, but she's surprisingly pretty good. Aside from the
reluctance to believe she could ever be a "normal" type of girl, her
performance is pretty impressive considering who she is in real life.
There's even a sensual strip scene, which oddly enough doesn't get as corny as
it easily could have. Perhaps the most impressive performance comes from
Brian Van Holt, who plays the most layered character in the film. We
never seem to know what's going on in his head, even when the script tells us
everything we think we need to know.
The movie is directed by newcomer
Jaume Serra, who does a great job playing out the story. I really admire
his technique in making this scary without forcing us to jump. The wax
aspects of the story are even more creepy than one might imagine, often giving
us some pretty disturbing moments that will definitely leave a lasting
impression. The directing style is obviously inspired, but never feels
hacked out. There are a few moments of over the top action toward the
end of the film, but overall this makes for an impressive horror flick.
I was pleasantly surprised at how fresh some of it was. The last time I
saw a film similar to this was the low budget classic WAXWORK.
This film is done with an obviously bigger budget, and they do a great job
with what's at their disposal. There is a bit of question about how
things in this town have managed to go so long without catching attention from
authorities, but hey, it's a horror film. Granted it's not Academy Award
material, but if you like slasher flicks, particularly the classics we grew up
with, this film is sure to please.
BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of
1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give HOUSE OF WAX a 7.
Visit the MGM official HOUSE OF WAX movie
website by clicking
House of Wax
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