House of Wax

Utterly redundant remake. Beyond pointless, below bad.

Released in 2005, certified UK-15. Reviewed on 28 May 2005 by Craig Eastman
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And so the trend for pointless schlock horror remakes continues. House of Wax is a teened-up version of the 50s Vincent Price vehicle which many apparently consider to be an inventive little chiller. This naughties bastardisation most certainly is not. The original saw a murderous Price stock his demented waxworks display with candle-clad victims for no appreciably good reason, and while this turgid rehash sees plenty of wax mummification it foolishly attempts to infuse this with the flimsiest of standard slasher plots, turning a potentially creepy affair into a stupid, soulless facsimile of every single teen horror flick of the last ten years.

A group of random teen nobodies are on their way to a big football game and decides to take a shortcut through some uncharted woodland (yes; it's that original) which turns out to harbour the isolated and forgotten town of Ambrose. Carly Jones (Elisha Cuthbert) is accompanied by her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki), brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray), Nick's friend Blake (Rober Ri'chard) and constantly copulating couple Paige (Paris Hilton) and Dalton (Jon Abrahams). The first hour of the film is spent in despairing agony as Spanish director Juame Collet-Serra (a Hollywood virgin) attempts to set up some painfully protracted character dynamics which start off floundering and only deteriorate as the movie progresses.

Great efforts are made to animate the cut-and-paste cohorts, but despite being repeatedly told how much of a bad boy Nick is, how much he hates Wade, how Wade faces moving to New York or losing Carly and blah, blah, blah,'s just impossible to care. Unforgivably for such fare, all this ultimately pointless exposition means the action is put on hold until well into the movie's second half when loony garage owner Bo (Brian Van Holt) turns out to be proprietor of the titular candle outlet and sets about slaughtering the hapless hormonals with the aid of his disfigured Siamese twin brother Vincent.

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There is of course the usual attempt at justifying the pair's murderous exploits by way of a flashback preamble that sees Bo and Vincent being abused by their parents, but in this case it seems even more pointless than usual. The extrapolation of psyche required between a child being forcibly strapped in a chair and covering immobilised victims in wax thirty years later is certainly beyond my means, but then I guess House of Wax isn't aiming for my demographic. That in itself may be entirely justifiable, but the contempt shown by the movie for even the disposable drive-in teen crowd it seems targeted at in holding back the (ultimately unsatisfying) gore until almost half an hour from the end is excruciatingly lamentable.

The deaths themselves, when they finally arrive, are largely pale, pallid and far removed from the gruesome dispatches the marketing would lead you to expect. The most graphic and over-hyped fate is reserved for society "it" girl Paris Hilton, and when a metal pole being propelled through the head of such an offensively pointless organism as she fails to raise even a morsel of satisfaction you know you've got problems. The others meet far less blood-soaked ends that we'd hoped, and considering how far the genre bar has been raised by efforts such as Final Destination 2 recently the disappointment registers well off the scale.

Assuming you've managed to stay awake throughout, Collet-Serra does admittedly deliver an impressive enough finale that clearly ate the entire budget and perhaps goes some way to explaining why the rest of the movie is so naff. However, as John Nada might put it, it's ultimately like pouring perfume on a pig. There seems little sense in perpetuating useless, genuinely unnecessary exposition throughout a film that's already half an hour too long for it's own good in favour of an excessive blowout that simply highlights the grievous inadequacy of the first hour and a half. Uniquely, House of Wax becomes my first candidate for a Director's Cut where the "cut" is just that: an hour less of footage. Beyond disappointing.

I award this movie 1 out of 5 Units We Use

Tippy says:- Far too lenient. If this doesn't deserve the rock bottom score nothing does. That Hilton can't even run away convincingly sets new benchmarks in awfulness. 0/5 Tippymarks.

Juame Collet-Serra
Cast list:
Elisha Cuthbert (Carly Jones)
Chad Michael Murray (Nick Jones)
Bo / Vincent (Brian Van Holt)
Wade (Jared Padalecki)
Paige Edwards (Paris Hilton)