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Overall Rating
2.63

Awesome: 12.98%
Worth A Look: 24.43%
Average: 3.05%
Pretty Bad31.3%
Total Crap: 28.24%

11 reviews, 65 user ratings


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House of Wax (2005)
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by robertrosado

"Hot Wax"
4 stars

I don't think I'm alone when I say that 2005 has not been particularly kind to the horror genre. While "Cursed", "Hide and Seek", "The Ring Two", and "The Amityville Horror" all showed glimpses of interest and potential, there have been more misses than hits. For proof, see: "White Noise", "Boogeyman", "The Jacket", "Mindhunters", and "Alone in the Dark". Imagine my surprise when "House of Wax", tightly written by siblings Chad and Carey Hayes, turned out to be... well, a surprise.

Carly Jones (Elisha Cuthbert) is a young woman, traveling with her trouble-making brother, Nick (Chad Michael Murray), and boyfriend, Wade (Jared Padalecki). They are, along with Paige (Paris Hilton), Blake (Robert Ri'chard), and Dalton (Jon Abrahams), hoping to score tickets to the final football game of the season. Along the way, they run into some car trouble, and are forced to enter a desolate town where nothing is what it appears to be.

Upon hearing of this, a remake of the classic Vincent Price B-movie, I rolled my eyes. I couldn't imagine what disasters freshman director Jaume Serra had cooked up for his audience. In a time when most high-profile horror films are disappointments, latent with bad writing, sloppy direction, and amateur acting, I consider myself lucky that Serra and the Hayes brothers took it upon themselves to make a good, old-fashioned, spookfest. Unlike the disappointments that I named before, this flick pulls no punches, and uses every cinematic trick in the book to give everyone exactly what they came for.

I am happy that the Hayes' actually took the time and effort to create likable and believable characters, thus making the events that much more urgent. It also gives the young actors portraying them something grip on. As she did in "The Girl Next Door", Elisha Cuthbert proves to audiences what a skilled actress she really is. In the 2003 remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", Jessica Biel silenced naysayers by delivering a raw and emotional performance, one that put the viewer right there with her. Here, Cuthbert does the same. Chad Michael Murray ("A Cinderella Story"), in one of his first more mature roles, is no slacker as Nick. Murray exudes charisma and a hard edge, as well as some impressive athleticism on top of it. Murray and Cuthbert gel perfectly, and have tangible, familial chemistry.

More so than anything else, the press and the American public have made a field day about Paris Hilton's major acting debut. As I expected, Hilton does not embarrass herself. In fact, she is just as good as anyone else in the movie (do with that what you will). Hilton is sexy and playful onscreen, I can't think of one good reason why she's gotten the worst of the film's harsh reception, other than they are simply picking on her. Jared Padalecki (TV's 'Gilmore Girls') memorably manages to overcome his underwritten role. Robert Ri'chard (TV's 'Cousin Skeeter') and Jon Abrahams ("Meet the Parents") do not have much to work with, but get the job done. With only one scene, Damon Herriman (“Soar”) makes an unforgettable impression, and his presence hangs over the rest of the film. Finally, Brian Van Holt ("Basic") is superb and threatening in a dual role.

Once more, kudos must go to the screenwriters for avoiding clichés whenever possible. Despite popular opinion, "House of Wax" is quite unpredictable for a majority of its running time. Take this for example: It seems as if the killer is down for the count and Carly bends down to retrieve something from his pockets. What do you expect to happen? See the movie, and you will understand what I mean. It is also refreshing to see a horror film in which the characters show even a modicum of good sense.

Unlike most horror scores, John Ottman's exhilarating work never distracts. However, as with Dark Castle's other releases, the visual aspects of "Wax" are award-worthy, and lift the film above its genre trappings. The talents of cinematographer Stephen F. Windon, production designer Graham Walker, art director Nicholas McCallum, and editor Joel Negron highlight the ghoulish imagery. Speaking of imagery, I believe that the gorehounds will be thrilled with the many makeup effects and tricks in store here. Each death scene is more stomach churning than the last. Considering his past in music videos and commercials, it is obvious that Jaume Serra has a great eye for style. His "in-your-face" approach is a great asset to this film's success. Just when you think the camera will turn away, it does not. He is also particularly good a building thick layers of dread and atmosphere. One standout shot is our introduction to the killer, as he slowly emerges from a trap door.

In a case like this, I would usually admit when I am in the minority (Shut up, okay? I liked "House of 1000 Corpses"!). In this case, I firmly that the detractors have gotten it wrong. I am not sure why people are so hard on this film, considering it's much better than recent genre entries. Maybe they're afraid to admit that a horror flick starring Paris Hilton could possibly be worth watching... Who knows? This is a horror film, and a commendably stylish and effective one at that. As a lifelong horror fan, all I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed "House of Wax", in all of its lurid and sadistic glory. I safely consider it a great accomplishment in modern horror, as well as (along with “Sin City”) the first completely satisfying release of 2005.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12045&reviewer=394
originally posted: 05/09/05 23:59:26
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell house of shit is more like it 1 stars
10/18/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Should have been called "House of Hollywood Hostess Twinkie garbage". 1 stars
7/14/09 faiche13 Ultra creepy campy fun 3 stars
6/24/09 Kailee An okay movie, very slow beginning but it picks up towards the end 3 stars
6/10/09 RHYS Not SCARY enough. No suspense, just drags. Good special effects at end. 2 stars
8/15/08 Shaun Wallner Ugg boring!! 1 stars
6/11/08 PAUL SHORTT IT ADHERES STRICTLY TO TEEN-SLASHER FORMULA BEFORE SIMPLY MELTING AWAY 1 stars
11/08/07 art excellent 5 stars
11/02/07 hank3395 favorite scene: when Paris dies 2 stars
5/19/07 wooo hooo kid i like it andthe song and when paris is in the tent 5 stars
2/22/07 Beau For Paris her performance was good, but elisha cuthbert and chadwas amazing!! good casting 4 stars
1/13/07 bullit16 Wow. An absolute abortion of a movie. 1 star is 1 too many 1 stars
11/09/06 sofi best part wen paris gets killld wooohhoooo 4 stars
11/02/06 cody Slow at first , but the movie delivers in the end, good mixture of blood and scares. 3 stars
8/06/06 Taelor Blevins I thought it was great Paris Hilton and Chad Murray and Elisha Cuthbert done a great job! 5 stars
7/30/06 Shaun Wallner it was alright 4 stars
7/14/06 Stanley Thai This is the BEST horror film of 2005. Don't listen to other people. It's not crap but it's 4 stars
7/12/06 Anthony Feor My favorite part was the acting 1 stars
7/08/06 drydock54321 this is a nice one 4 stars
6/15/06 Garrett So many talk bad about Paris, But im sure she is a main reason why they watched the movie. 4 stars
5/09/06 Brittany I LOVED IT 5 stars
4/30/06 BILL it wuz to brillent but to perdicetble 4 stars
4/25/06 Carol Baker Too Predictable for words to describe 2 stars
1/20/06 Danny Repulsive. Poor Jared! Yuck! 1 stars
12/21/05 Carolyn Rathburn the only thing that impressed me was the painting by Vincent 2 stars
12/12/05 Trisha Gifford it was relli good, the main chick was relli good tha hot black guy was sooo fine 5 stars
11/21/05 Indrid Cold Being slightly better than the typical slick Hollywood horror movie makes it just average. 3 stars
11/16/05 Jeff W Great fun. As good a slasher as anyone can ask for. 5 stars
11/12/05 j I LOVE THIS MOVIE BECAUSE I'M A COMPLETE FUCKING MORON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
11/06/05 HGTV fanatic I loved this movie for one reason--Paris bites the dust---now "THAT'S HOT"!!!! 1 stars
10/28/05 dylans gurl this film rox and i soon will own it hopfully and i luv the part where chad takes off his s 5 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) a good movie worth watching 5 stars
10/17/05 Nikki Louise Gledhill I thought it was brilliant. It was pretty scary 5 stars
10/11/05 Tom Burns I loved it. A great horror movie. 5 stars
9/12/05 Svante Skoog I LOVE GORE!! Finally the slashers of today are bringing back the splatter to life :) 5 stars
9/09/05 Lloyd Kaufman is a Sex God It has Elisha Cuthbert in it and Paris Hilton getting killed. What more could you ask for? 4 stars
9/09/05 Kyle More than delivers on its promise. 5 stars
8/22/05 Christian A vehicle for Paris Hilton, bleh 1 stars
7/27/05 Jerry MUCH better than recent slasher movies. No reason for the harsh reviews. 5 stars
7/17/05 Vic it was texas chainsaw massacre with wax..paris hilton should stay away from acting! 2 stars
7/17/05 Charlene Javier Lame-o! 2 stars
7/16/05 Green Gremlin Great production design...shame about the story !!! 2 stars
7/16/05 Steve W. Thankfully, there are two critics on this site who know what a GOOD slasher movie is. 5 stars
7/08/05 Sophia Great horror movie. Fun, popcorn entertainment. 5 stars
6/23/05 nicky white i didnt understand why they were killing people 1 stars
6/16/05 adrian ace pure garbage, trailers looked great, movie sux ass 1 stars
6/15/05 JFK awful script 2 stars
6/05/05 Dave Really good special effects, but little else. 2 stars
5/31/05 jocelyn i haven't been on edge at the theater in a long time. this was a very welcome scare! 5 stars
5/18/05 kelsey we only went to see it to see Paris Hilton die. this movie was ok but it wasnt the best. 4 stars
5/18/05 Tracie Smegelski I liked it! Seeing Paris die was worth it! Just call me brain-dead, I guess... 4 stars
5/17/05 Neon Another sad remake of an old movie - Hollywood needs new material 1 stars
5/17/05 E-FUNK 20 minutes of gore in the middle of this turd is worth your time. Otherwise, SHIT-FEST. 2 stars
5/14/05 Sgt Slaughter For beter Paris Hilton, see the South Park episode where she coughs up cum the whole time.. 1 stars
5/13/05 James The only people that will call this a awesome movie is brain dead teenagers. 1 stars
5/13/05 Naka Slasher shit. We can do better then this one. 1 stars
5/12/05 irbear as slasher flix go this one is entertaining 4 stars
5/12/05 ROY L. CAIN JR. The greatest movie of all time. ("Please don't kill me!") 4 stars
5/11/05 Jeff W. Why the negative reviews? Anyways, it's a terrific horror movie, and worth the ticket. 5 stars
5/09/05 Taylor I thought this movie was pretty good. it was not scary at all just gory. 4 stars
5/07/05 Danielle I don't know what these people are talking about. Truly entertaining, grisly horror flick. 4 stars
5/07/05 Naka SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT! 1 stars
5/07/05 Nikky It was very bad 1 stars
5/07/05 Kristina Williams look at the cast. Were you expecting greatness? Fools. 1 stars
5/06/05 Genny Knowl This is really a dumb movie with bad acting 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-May-2005 (R)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  14-Jul-2005




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