House of Wax

House of Wax

2005, R, 107 min. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Starring Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams, Robert Ri'chard.

REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., May 6, 2005

Imagine for a moment that you’re a sick little puppy and you want to see Paris Hilton die. Or perform a striptease in a tent. Or both. Technically, the rules of my profession prohibit me from confirming whether these events occur in this slick, nü-metallic remake of André de Toth’s titular 1953 creepshow, but gee whiz – if you had Hilton in your movie, what would you do with her? Ophelia’s mad scene? Anyway, amidst the crunching chords of Disturbed and product placement for InStyle, a certain high-profile hotel heiress becomes stranded in the Florida hinterlands with her Central Casting buddies (the tough kid, the dopey kid, the sweet lovable boyfriend, and Cuthbert as the good girl), and it takes forever for them to fall into the clutches of demented rednecks (Van Holt, a sort of Bill Paxtonesque fellow in a dual role) and be tormented with duct tape, pliers, shotguns, sharpened sticks, and all manner of weapons. The locus of the action is Trudy’s House of Wax, a waxworks so … well … waxy that the house itself is made of wax. To explain the presence of this marvel, there’s some expository business about a closed sugar mill and a newly constructed highway, and conjoined twins and a brain cyst, and a town so small and woebegone that even the sheriff can’t find it. Of course its composition engenders plenty of nifty special effects from the deep pockets of co-producers Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver, and there are some pleasures to be had from that. Occasionally the movie (directed by the music video artist formerly known as Jaume, in his feature debut) manages to be genuinely creepy – not just suspenseful, but truly unsettling. There’s one set-piece in particular – the details of which I cannot reveal, but let’s say it involves a sweet, lovable boyfriend and a certain quantity of wax – that could really freak a person right the fuck out. Collet-Serra sets up the sequence with deliberate care and drags it out to the point of sadism, perhaps beyond. A certain type of viewer – the sick little puppy kind – should appreciate this moment, and it is undeniably effective. Otherwise, expect lots of Slasher Movie 101 and putatively clever jibes at a certain high-profile hotel heiress (involving a video camera, of course, and a box full of cell phones that don’t work).

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

House of Wax, Jaume Collet-Serra, Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams, Robert Ri'chard

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