Reviews & Columns
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info


House of Wax

Warner Bros. // R // May 6, 2005
List Price: Unknown

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted May 6, 2005 | E-mail the Author
Combine a horror movie that the old gorehounds really admire (1953's House of Wax), a modern remake that made a lot of money (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and a forgotten old cult thriller that's just prefect to steal from (Tourist Trap) and you get this muddled concoction, a horror flick that's mercilessly dry and boring for 2/3rds of its running time ... and hopelessly loud, stupid, and gore-soaked for the final third. And be sure to toss Paris Hilton into the mix, beacuse, as a shameless marketing ploy hoping to cash in on the talentless gal's current popularity, "that's hot."

Six college student idiots are traveling from Florida to Louisiana for a football game. They get lost, suffer a mechanical problem in one of their vehicles, and begin wandering around. The two sentences you just read represent approximately one full hour of House of Wax's running time. Somehow mistaking a whole lot of aimless blather for actual intensity and character development, first-time director Jaume Serra seems fully intent on boring you into a coma before unleashing a skimpy collection of nasty gore-bits. But since you don't care about any of the characters one bit, and the very concept of the movie is pretty much all things pedestrian, House of Wax feels like 75% yawn, 20% dripping gore, and 5% left over for the end credits.

Mr. Serra, along with the equally inexperienced screenwriters Carey and Chad Hayes, seems entirely content to let his film do nothing for the first two acts. The six main goofballs are not even remotely sympathetic, intelligent, challenging, or interesting. They say stupid things before doing stupid things ... and then we're introduced to a giant haunted house made entirely of wax. (Good thing it never gets hot in Louisiana!)

Elisha Cuthbert is the most famous of all the cast members, which (of course) means that her character will live to see the end credits and that her agent will be demanding double the paycheck House of Wax 2: Wax Off!. Paris Hilton, in a startling display of typecasting, plays a slutty whiner who exists only to deliver a particularly nasty death scene that audience members will adore ... if only because they really hate Paris Hilton. Acting-wise, she's similar to Pia Zadora, only with less natural talent. The four boys in the cast are as photogenic as they are one-note: the noble boyfriend, the rebellious bad boy, the goofy comic sidekick, and the black guy who doesn't even warrant an onscreen dispatch.

If I told you that the local wax house was populated by a pair of resoundingly homicidal maniacs, I doubt your response would be "Hey, TWO killers! This movie must be good!" But by the time that House of Wax begins to pick up some steam and deliver the good, gory gristle ... you just won't care. As a hardcore horror freak, I was able to appreciate that House of Wax delivered a handful of unapologetically gruesome murder scenes, but the long, lingering looks at the severed limbs and blood geysers exist only because, well, there's nothing else worth watching.

It's as if the young director realized that A) his movie does nothing for 55 minutes, and B) it's not actually scary in any discernable way, so he just amped up the gory bits and let his camera lovingly linger on the bloodletting a few times. Because when you can't make something that's actually creepy and intense, you should just snip off an extra finger, Krazy-Glue someone's lips together, or allow the gorethirsty audience get three long looks at Ms. Hilton's hideous demise. That's a tacky approach for any horror flick to take, so while House of Wax has handsome production value and a few cool ideas, the overall result is really not much more than your typical Friday the 13th sequel ... only with less creativity and a lot more Paris Hilton.

And in keeping with the 'wax, wax, everywhere WAX' concept of this goofy little gore-bucket, I'll just glibly assume that the screenplay was written in crayon.

All of my theatrical reviews are reprinted from my own wonderful movie site / Hollywood Bitchslap. Stop by for a visit some time.



Rent It

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews
1. A Dangerous Man
2. Love Jones: Criterion Collection
3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Paramount Presents)

Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links