“You’ll be frozen with fear in quite a few spots” – Gareth Von Kallenbach
Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams, Brian Van Holt
As sure as the winter season brings snow and rain, summer brings sequels, remakes and anything else seen as the cinematic equivalent to a xerox, to theaters across the land.
With retools such as “The Amityville Horror:” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” already making some beaut bank and with “The Fog”, pending, Hollywood is trying to find gold from the past. The latest spec at the bottom of the pan is a rework of the ol’ Vincent Price shrieker “House of Wax”.
This “Wax” – produced by the one man movie machine, Joel Silver – shares precious little with the 1953 Price classic – aside from the title house and an abundance of wax figures – but it’s still quite an undeniably fun and teeth-grindingly creepy diversion.
Carly Jones (Elisa Cuthbert), a young college graduate, is planning to move from her small town to take an internship in New York. Her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki) is unsure if he will follow her to the big city – this evokes a source of tension between the otherwise happy couple.
Cue the getaway to smooth the rough patches. Carly and Wade decide to take a road trip to a big sporting event, and have their friends Paige (Paris Hilton), Blake (Robert Ri’chard), Dalton (Jon Abrahams), and Carly’s brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray), tike along for the ride. Not surprisingly – considering it’s pedigree – the film sees our troupe ending up in a remote backwoods area where they bonk and booze-on.
In cliche number 61, the merriment is interrupted with a mysterious truck pulling up. The gang’s car is unexpectedly out of business – broken fan belt – and so in the morning forces Carly and Wade stay behind to locate the needed part in a nearby town while their friends continue on to the game with the abovesaid driver.
The local town is mostly empty, and looks like something out of the 60’s aside from numerous signs that tout the local wax museum. While exploring the empty town, Carly and Wade stumble upon a church where a service is in session, and meet Bo, (Brian Van Holt), the local mechanic, who tells them he can get the needed part as soon as the service has ended. With time on their hands, Carly and Wade visit the local wax museum – which is equally deserted, but filled with life like figures. You can guess the rest. Drip, Drip, Drip…..Aaaaah!
Despite some flaws, “House” generally works. As horror films go, it’s got it all. The characters and plot are as thin as A4 paper – not unexpected with a film such as this though – but there’s enough good moments to make up for the weak spots. It takes about 50 minutes for the bloodshed to kick in, but when it does, the film cranks into overdrive : the killings are some of the most brutal in horror film history. On more than one occasion during my press screener did I see a member of the audience hiding their face in the shoulder of a significant other during some of the films more intense moments.
Of the cast, Brian Van Holt is the most impressive – unleashing a fairly underwritten but highly memorable rogue. The remaining troops – including Cuthbert and Hilton – are also quite apt in their parts.
Points to first time director Jaume Serrathe too. His pacing of the film is effective and helps sustain the tension. You’ll be frozen with fear in quite a few spots.
My biggest issue with the film would be the ending. I thought it took the Hollywood way out, opting to go with a big fx spectacle instead of staying focused on the characters and their plight, That being said, as mindless Summer thrills go “The House of Wax” is a decent, if albeit at times lacking, film.
Reviewer : Gareth Von Kallenbach