Review: House of Wax

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  May 6, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Reviews

So, we all want to see Paris Hilton get stabbed. No, not in that movie " in her big screen debut as a vacuous horror heroine.

Well Paris (Paige), Elisha Cuthbert (Carly), Chad Michael Murray (Nick), Jon Abrahams (Dalton), and the rest of the group of co-eds lose their way while trying to take a shortcut to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for an important football game and end up in a spooky little town cut off from civilization. At the centre of this mysterious town is an old wax museum that seems to be the cornerstone of the town's history. But the museum also holds a deadly secret that has been going on for generations.

The original 1954 classic House of Wax, which starred Vincent Price, had a much more detailed story and focused a lot more on the torment of the film's central character. This new version has more in common with films like Wrong Turn and the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Matter of fact, I would have to say it's a direct rip-off of both those films.

It is such a clone of those films that the heroine (Cuthbert) ends up wearing a dirty male undershirt just like Jessica Biel did in the Texas. There are also the creepy basement scenes, elaborate killings, disorienting darkness scenes, and even oodles of grisly mayhem. Even the killer is reminiscent of Leatherface from Texas.

I had a real hard time believing the plausibility of a wax museum tucked away by hillbillies in the middle of a thick Louisiana forest. Okay, if it was a Scooby Doo cartoon, I could have found it believable. And haven't college co-eds learned yet that you don't mess with hillbillies in their own environment?

I also found that none of the co-eds were at all interesting. There are the brother-sister combo of Cuthbert and Murray, who seem to have more sexual chemistry than any of the others. That in itself was quite demented, but we are talking about the back-country here so maybe it isn't. It just seemed like in every scene involving Cuthbert and Murray, they were hot for each other.

Cuthbert does her best to assume the role as the strong female horror heroine, but comes off more as the victim role she played on the hit TV series, 24, than a real effective horror female. Jessica Biel in Texas and Eliza Dushku in Wrong Turn were way more effective.

Then we come to the billionaire heiress slumming it as a horror actress for fun. Paris doesn't shy too far away from who she is or what her reputation represents. She has probably two facial reactions, and says her lines like we are in a scripted version of her reality series, The Simple Life. The best thing to say about Paris in this film is that she isn't the worst thing in the film.

The plot, the script, the music, the obvious comparisons, the vacuous acting, and the utterly painful pacing of this film make it so hard to watch. The production design, special effects, and even some of the death scenes are watchable, but not enough to save this train wreck of a film.

Since there are so many blatant rip-offs of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, why didn't they just call this film Waxface? There are oodles of horror films coming this year " my suggestion is skip this one. (1.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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