Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Waxing effort: House of Wax (2005)

House of Wax (2005) (AKA "Wax House, Baby")
rating: ***1/2
starring:  Chad Michael Murray, Paris Hilton and Elisha Cuthbert

Known famously among horror fans as the movie where Paris Hilton dies, House of Wax is far from being the implied "remake" of the classic Vincent Price proto-slasher mystery and more of the usual teen slasher fare. Of course, knowing me, that is a Godsend.

Starting with a scene in 1971, a pair of children is seen at a breakfast table wherein one was being restrained by his parents for acting wildly ferociously, while his brother nonchalantly eats his cereal.

Skipping to the now; hoping to get the tickets for the last football game of the season, friends Carly Jones (Elisha Cuthbert) and Paige (Paris Hilton) along with their respective boyfriends, Wade (Jared Padalecki) and Blake (Robert Ri'chard), and Carly's trouble-making brother, Nick (Chad Michael Murray) and his best bud Dalton (Jon Abrahams) goes on a road trip and stops by in the woods to camp out later that evening.

There, they were harassed by a blaring pick-up truck that seemingly drove off after Nick retaliates and broke one of its headlights, an event that may or may not had lead to their car being sabotaged and some of their belongings stolen later in the morning. In need of a new fan belt, Blake was offered a ride to a nearby town of Ambrose by a local who happens to be stopping by. He agrees, with Carly tagging along, while their friends and brother go ahead to catch the game.

The town, as it turns out, was virtually desolate but after accidentally disrupting a funeral, they met Bo, a mechanic who agrees to look for a fan-belt for their car, but behaves more suspiciously the longer Blake and Carly stays.

Things gets weirder when, deciding to visit the town's prized The House of Wax, Carly saw a prowler around the house. It all became clear that someone's lurking under the house, someone with a habit of killing and turning people into wax mannequins...

House of Wax is undeniably just another teen slasher made in an era wherein the sub-genre is, yet again, beginning to fall into obscurity after so many Scream clones using and re-using the subgenre until it's nearly dried out. Still, it does have one thing going; taking a good advantage of the growing industry of torture porn (started by the neo-Giallo SAW (2003)), it is noticeable that gore here was surprisingly high despite it's near-minimal bodycount and even taking a few jabs on creating some cringe shocking scenes. (so many Achilles heels cut. yikes!)

In its run, House of Wax certainly does it best to keep a straight face as a slasher with more than one occasion ringing back to the Golden years of the 80s; it's as intense as it is gory, it's characters, though some are singular-minded meat, are in level to be likable, even dragged along some pretty cool killers with a modus operandi, though silly, is far executed thanks to some really nice CG and practical effects.

And then, in the usual case run, we also have the main culprits that made the sub-genre as cliched as possible; again, we have the gang splitting up in search of their missing friends, with half of them having sex instead of helping, both dying a very gruesome deaths. Not that I'm complaining (much), the only thing I find a little weird was it's running time. I don't know whether it was the torture scenes that prolonged it, the stalkings, kids snooping around inside the goons' lair, but frankly, I don't really care much cuz those scene were hardly boring. Surprisingly.

The climax of the movie where the House of Wax (which is literal in nature) caught fire and starts to melt had to be one of my personal faves scenes. The special effects where awesome, even if some of the bits does look obviously CG but it was a great tension builder considering the whole thing's about to collapse on top of our final leads, with a scorching wax pit on the bottom to add.

House of Wax may not be the apple of the critiques' eyes but hey, it's not everyday we actually get a brother-sister final leads at the end, and it's certainly isn't everyday we get to see a half-way decent slasher flick from a big shot studios without utterly making a mess out of it. Everything from score to the mood had me accepting House of Wax as, again, a Godsend in a year where slasher horror seems to be awfully generic, and a little bit of proof that the sub-genre can still shock and entertain us.

1 male coated in wax, later dies from shock after his cheek got sliced
1 male decapitated with daggers
1 male hunting knife kicked into his neck
1 female gets a steel pipe thrown through her head
1 male bludgeoned to death with baseball bat
1 male stabbed on the chest with a hunting knife, falls to his death
total: 6


  1. My biggest problem with the movie isn't Paris Hilton - she does fine with what's asked of her here - no, my problem lies with Chad Michael Murray - the little turd who worked on a show here in town, got my makeup artist buddy fired because having a guy do your makeup is "gay"; and just generally kept showing up places and annoying me. So, having him in this made it a tough road - still, the movie was okay, with the potent violence a big plus.

    1. aww, damn. Well, you know what they say about teen stars 9-9

  2. Yes, you totally nailed it with that review. House Of Wax is hilarious movie with lots of nice kills, great settings and a cool cast. Never understood all the hate. Hilton's performance is fun.

    1. I blame it on the year it was released. A lot of awful horror flicks those times...