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Overall Rating

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 Doug Bentin

"Most people are giving this film dismissive chuckles."
4 stars

Is it any good? Worth seeing? Actually worth going to see, or should I wait for the DVD? Will a film reviewer be able to face himself in the mirror if he writes anything good about it?

Is it just a remake of the 1950s Vincent Price flick, which was a remake of the 1933 “Mystery of the Wax Museum”?

No. The original story was credited to Charles Belden, who gets credit again 72 years later, but all that’s carried over is the concept that someone is using the bodies of real people covered in wax to form statues for a museum. Scriptwriters Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes have blended that idea with the currently popular don’t-get-off-the-main-road-or-the-creepy-hillbillies-will-get-you plot device. So, of course, two cars loaded with six college students on their way to a football game take the detour and end up in a sort of psychotic Cloud Coo-Coo Land where they are dispatched one-by-one by two brothers who have created an entire town of wax figures. Actually, the movie borrows as much from a little gem called “Tourist Trap” as it does from previous wax-on-wax offs.

Is it any good or just more same old same old?

Surprisingly, first time feature director Jaume Collet-Serra builds the tension pretty well. If the picture is never really scary, it is consistently creepy, and instead of tacking on an arbitrary ending that shows off the special effects, Collet-Serra sticks to the ending of the first films with a huge fire. In this movie, the entire museum is made of wax—it is literally a house made of wax--so when the place begins to melt from the flames, floors give way, ceilings collapse, and walls turn to liquid. This makes for some nicely surreal moments as hands emerge through walls and people try to run but find their feet sinking into the floor, just like in those dreams you used to have when you were a kid.

Perhaps there’s a little Wes Craven influence at work here. There are certainly less intelligent things that could be borrowed from Craven’s films. It’s also remarkable how often moments in films are described as “surreal” when in fact they aren’t at all. Maybe what critics should be saying is “If this director were more concerned with tapping our unconscious minds and less with creating imagery that is odd without being truly unnerving, this would be surreal.”

There is little logic to anything that happens in the film. The characters are constantly trusting people they have no reason to trust. They make one wrong decision after another. They’ve fallen down a rabbit hole, but don’t have sense enough to realize it even when they pass a white rabbit wearing a vest and holding a pocket watch. It’s all a dream in which the characters react oddly, nothing is what it seems to be on the surface, and the world is made up of doubles.

Now, when I say that the film is a dream I don’t mean that one of the characters wakes up at the end, sits straight up in bed, sweating, and mumbles, “Thank God, it was only a dream.” No “Invaders From Mars” déjà vu, thank you very much. It’s more like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” in which the film is a dream we in the audience are having from which we can’t awaken until we leave the theater. It’s that feeling to which good horror films aspire. Some things on screen don’t make sense when you drag them into the light of day, nor should they. What’s spooky in the dark, we may not bat an eye at when the lights go up. When it’s not only dark but emerging from our unconscious minds, the creep-out content is increased.

What’s most surprising is that I suspect a lot of this is deliberate and not just a lucky accident emerging from bad writing. An active intelligence behind a dead teenager flick? Will wonders never cease?

And finally, is Paris Hilton really as bad as everyone thinks she’ll be?

Not really. She isn’t asked to do any heavy lifting as an actress—she needs to look sexy and then later to look scared, and this she manages. This isn’t a breakout star-is-born performance, but it’s only a distraction to the extent that you’re pulled out of the movie to think “Hey, that’s Paris Hilton” every time she enters the frame. As the second female lead in a genre movie, Hilton is fine, and her character, while more than a little slutty, is decent enough that I didn’t enjoy seeing her spectacularly gory death as much as I thought I would.

The movie also stars Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, and Brian Van Holt. All are up to what the script asks of them, especially Cuthbert who brings more to the female lead that expected.

All in all, “House of Wax” is a better horror flick than I thought it would be. It even evidences a smattering of intelligence. In fact, it’s the best one so far this year. Or is that just damning with faint praise?

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/16/05 02:17:17
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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
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 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 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
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  06-May-2005 (R)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2005



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