House of Wax (2005) Movie Review
Article by SisterRoboto of lefthandhorror.com
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
In a town… not listed on any map… there is a place time has passed by. The figures are molded with care, sculpted with precision, but there’s a reason they look so real…
A bunch of college students are stranded in a small town where suffering for art takes on a whole new meaning in this tale of terror. Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and her boyfriend, Wade (Jared Padalecki), have hit the road with a handful of their friends to attend a championship college football game. While camping out for the night, the gang makes the mistake of getting on the wrong side of a mysterious local redneck, and the next morning they discover that Wade’s car no longer works. As the others continue on to the big game, Carly and Wade make their way into the closest town, Ambrose, and discover it’s all but deserted, except for a local tourist attraction, the House of Wax. However, it isn’t long before they find out why the wax sculptures at the museum look so freakishly real, and discover a pair of murderous brothers are keen on making them part of the next exhibit. House of Wax is an in-name-only remake of the well-remembered 1953 3-D horror outing starring Vincent Price, which was in turn based on the 1933 picture Mystery of the Wax Museum.
According to reviews and critics, I should hate this movie, but I do not. I actually really enjoyed this flick. Some might say it should be one of those forgettable, ridiculous teen slasher remakes that does not keep your attention. But it’s a guilty pleasure of mine, and I like it. And not just because Paris Hilton dies a satisfying death – which is awesome – but because there are actually some very scary scenes in the movie, great movie set, cool concept, and of course a stellar climax. The dead teenager movie has taken a different twist with this one. The characters in House of Wax are in their 20’s and yet still repeat the same deadly mistakes as in the “Friday the 13th” kids who checked into Camp Crystal Lake and didn’t check out. (“Since all the other campers have been beheaded, dismembered and brutally murdered Sally… we should go skinny dipping at midnight! Great idea Billy!”). House of Wax in comparison follows two carloads of college students leaving for a big football game. They take a detour along the way, leading them into what looks like the Texas Chainsaw theme park. Although you know you probably shouldn’t explore and poke around an abandoned town, they do anyway because they are stupid teenagers.
I will admit, this movie is a little slow getting started, despite a steamy sex scene involving Paris Hilton. It takes almost an hour before things start getting tense and when we get the first glimpse into these wax sculptures. The problem seems to be that they split up the characters too much. The star couple head to Ambrose (the abandoned town) while the others try to get to the football game, but when that turns out to be a bust, they head back to the camp. When they realize some of the group is missing, two of the characters venture out to search for them, while another two characters remain at camp. There’s almost three separate storylines going on at one time and each one takes a loooong time to get to their the conclusion. This is the problem I had with the film.
Even so, I think the positives outweigh the negatives. This is still a very frightening movie and the concept of these human made wax sculptures, stemming from the 1953 original, is just majorly wicked. Even the House of Wax building is made of wax and come to find out, the entire town is wax! So after making camp the first evening, they wake in the morning to find a fan belt on their car to by mysteriously broken. Carly and Wade take a ride into town for a replacement fan belt from a guy they discover collects road-kill for a living and smells to fit the position. They arrive at the abandoned town of Ambrose, which seems to be stuck in a time warp from the 1960’s. The setup of this town is so creepy! I love how they used this set as the backdrop for the plot. I think what sold me was the old time architecture of the buildings, the muted colors, store fronts… everything 60’s! The attention to detail is great, right down to the movie still playing at the cinema, “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”. But what happened to everyone in the neighborhood? No citizens anywhere to be found and a very interesting House of Wax that dominates the town. It reminds me a lot of the Bates home from Psycho. Super cool museum!
The plot unfortunately is predictable; one teenager after another gets picked off, usually while making a stupid mistake. However, the brutality of how each one is killed is very creative and the killer brothers in the movie are genuinely evil. House of Wax excels in its special effects and set design. The closing scene in which the House of Wax literally melts down with them trying to escape is spectacular. The characters sink into stairs, fall through floors, and claw through walls. This movie will surely get your blood pumping and add some high tension into your day. One of my favorite scenes is when a living victim is sprayed with hot wax and ends up with a glossy finish you’d have to pay an extra four bucks for at the car wash! I really dig this movie, and I think if you go in with an open mind and appreciation to detail, you will agree.
This remake was okay. I did enjoy the Vincent Price one. Nice review though.