House Of Wax (2005)

A creative small-town Ambrose set design and scary concept of being frozen alive without control in a waxy purgatory light this different candle than Pryce’s 50’s version – only to be blown out by clichés-galore, moronic (poorly-acted) characters.. and Paris Hilton. 4.2/10.

Plot Synopsis: A gang of college friends, including Wade (Jared Padalecki) and his girlfriend, Carly (Elisha Cuthbert), are en route to a school football game when they wind up with a flat tire in a ghost town. They are forced to seek help in the only place that’s open: the local wax museum. Once inside the spooky and seemingly abandoned building, they find the works on display are not quite what they seem — and the group soon discovers they’re being hunted.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Official CLC Review

The House Of Wax

Pryce’s 1953 Original Set The Stage For A Litany Of Modern Horror Tropes & Became The First 3D Feature Production – A Remake

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

Wax. It’s been a subject of horror for generations: a trope as ancient as the candle-lit atmosphere and thick residue it provides as a decoration on all spooky/Halloween occasions. But what if it was something more; say, what if it was morphed into an embalmation of live people?! A loose remake of 1953’s Vincent Pryce ‘House Of Wax’ that successfully originated the concept in the first major 3D production of its day (itself a remake of 1933’s American pre-Code ‘Mystery Of The Wax Museum), 2005’s version is here to modernize the concept – [hopefully] supplying some of the advanced modern technology/CGI, energy, & possibilities of horror fantasized about back 50+ years ago to the franchise. It does none of that. A creative small-town Ambrose set design and scary concept of being frozen alive without control in a waxy purgatory light this different candle than Pryce’s 50’s version – only to be violently blown out by clichés-galore, pretentious overlength, dense (poorly-acted) characters.. and Paris Hilton.

A Creative Set-Design

The Small-Town Charm & Nightmare-Twists Of Ambrose Play A Fantastic Backdrop To A Film That Doesn’t Even Care

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

One thing that is wholly absolved of blame from this waxy mess is the set-design. A small-town Americana setting nestled in the creek-laden countryside of a nondescript southern region, Ambrose plays a fantastic backdrop to a film that doesn’t even seem to care. The behind-the-scenes team has crafted a town filled with silhouettes of people – yet somehow feels empty and atmospherically-eerie. Only rarely are some of the magnificent nostalgic old set pieces like neon-lighted, stucco Art-Deco attractions of the city created utilized – like the diner, gas station, hunting store, church, and theater (of course, our personal favorite and the black-and-white musical a nice touch). The film could’ve been so much better if it took more time to flesh out the setting and explore the beauty of its fantastic design-work in backdrop – and it had plenty of time at 1hr50min (as we’ll address later); no excuses possible. The film instead runs towards the clichés of creepy lost-bro houses, dungeons filled with rusty torture instruments, dark rooms that go boo, and a wax museum that again has potential wasted.

A Pitch Scary-In-Concept

The Idea Of Being Frozen Alive Without Control In A Waxy Purgatory To Die A Slow, Painful Death Is Potential-Filled – & Wasted

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

The pitch of a wax sculptor who twists the already-creepy concept of lifelike mannequins frozen in time to live bait is a very scary one. Being frozen alive without control in a waxy purgatory to die a slow, painful death a killer’s sadistic trophy-decoration is dramatically-twisted and full of potential to be a scarefest of a generation or the next big franchise Texas Chainsaw Massacre it wants so desperately to-be, copying its original road-trip, small-town secrets, college-friends suffering horrific fates, and face-twisted antagonist [here looking like an Ozzy Osbourne-costume but somehow working]. However, it’s no surprise the movie failed – it only fully-realizes the horror ONE time. Wade’s live-embalmation (though a horrible character-choice breaking every rule and trespassing/destroying others’ work to evoke a non-sympathy to make the horror and his fate hit softer) is a frightening experience to watch – one decent scare to be only accompanied by one good one the entire rest of the film in the camp-tent creep-up in a formulaic, unscary, and vexatious scare package put to death by its unspeakably-awful characters & performances.

Moronic Characters & Weak Performances

One Cannot Imagine Why A Film With Pretentious Heiress Princess Paris Hilton In A Major Role Would Be Greenlit.. But Alas

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

The movie casts Paris [freaking] Hilton in a major role.. and I’m sure you can guess how it went. A spoiled, pretentious rich-kid heiress to a hotel chain affording her the luxurious privilege of never-having-to-work-for-a-living and being able to flaunt her non-earned wealth with ‘Stop Being Poor’ tank-tops, one cannot imagine how many starving actresses worked their fingers to the bone just trying to once get a role like this in a movie this big – only for her father to go to WB-execs and pay her way in. Her performance is just as unbelievably-awful as the rest of the cast; heck, even otherwise-good actors like Jared Padalecki of Supernatural TV-fame are so bad, I need to cleanse my eyes after watching. The only decent performance of the group is Chad Michael Murry of One Tree Hill-fame: the only actor who is able to convey a pulse or remotely-intrigue with a tough-guy duality that his character gets right. The characters are so incredibly-moronic, clichéd, and banal – it’s a wonder how this script ever got greenlit. These characters don’t just make stupid decisions and get caught in a web of terror they’re only-somewhat responsible for; they actively go out of their way to put themselves in stupid positions.

A Messy CGI-Finale & Clichés Galore

The Horror Is Not Even Good, Finale Full Of Messy CGI-Explosions & Melting Goo, Vapid Clichés & Self-Congratulation Everywhere

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

They trespass on others’ properties, burn their art/creations, go towards steaming piles of roadkill for no apparent reason, camp in the middle of the woods while keeping their tents open, and don’t leave after a weird guy stalks their campsite in the middle of the night. The story is an absolute mess that betrays itself and doesn’t even know what it wants to be – it goes slasher in some sequences, Michael Bay blockbuster in CGI-explosion riddled finales in others, and intellectual character drama or atmospheric horror in others it [of course] doesn’t have the talent to sustain. It tries to posit that the reason for the brothers’ heinous actions is their child abuse and restrainment in terrible ways like strap-in-chairs as kids by their mother in that opening scene.. then paints them going daily to reenact her funeral sad and promising her from beyond that this is all to honor her? The film is full of the most formulaic scares possible in-genre, seems bizarrely self-congratulatory as well noticing several times the movie takes long sequences of just showing its own name (yes, your name is House Of Wax.. I wouldn’t be proud of it after this film), and has the unmitigated audacity to be wildly-overlong at almost 2 hours rebuking acceptance of the fact that most slasher as bright-and-fast-burning guilty-pleasure media that isn’t some higher form of intellectual media and never surpasses the 1.5 hour-mark. How dare they – maybe the true horror they wanted to achieve is forcing you to watch this bad of a film for that long.. it certainly feels we’re embalmed for centuries like its wax figurines!

Conclusion

A Waxy Mess Of A Scarefest

A Creative Small-Town Setting & Scary Concept Violently-Wasted By A Clichéd, Overlong, Doltishly-Scripted/Acted Slog

Photograph Courtesy Of: Warner Bros. Studios

Overall, 2005’s House Of Wax is an absolute mess. In the film, an overwhelming stench of rotted roadkill-carcasses wafts onto the characters to follow. That must have been this movie. The brilliance of the ’50’s horror concept of being frozen alive in a waxy purgatory and creative small-town Americana setting/world-building are half-assed, thematization and psychology sloppily-executed and thin, sex-crazed college kid and rusty torture instrument clichés nauseating, length sacrilegious, CGI bad, and – worse of all – the performances atrocious led by spoiled nepotistic diva Paris Hilton. Pryce must be rolling in his grave to have this embalmation of everything special about the concept share the same name. A creative small-town Ambrose set design and scary concept of being frozen alive without control in a waxy purgatory light this different candle than Pryce’s 50’s version – only to be violently blown out by clichés-galore, pretentious overlength, dense (poorly-acted) characters.. and Paris Hilton.

Official CLC Score: 3.2/10