House of Wax movie review, Jaume Collet-Serra, Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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"House of Wax"
2.5 stars
105 minutes | Rated: R
WIDE: Friday, May 6, 2005
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams, Brian Van Holt, Emma Lung, Damon Herriman, Robert Ri'chard

  • Elisha Cuthbert
  • Jon Abrahams
  • Brian Van Holt

  •  LINKS for this film
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    By Rob Blackwelder

    After one gets past the trendy casting of Paris Hilton, this above-average horror flick actually surfaces from the bloody pit of remakes clutching a few decent ideas. Updating Charles Belden's old-time play and story, the story now strands six teenagers (including Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray) in a remote town. A sadistic killer (Brian Van Holt) hacks them up and covers them in wax.

    Twin screenwriters Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes play with some interesting ideas regarding twin characters, as well as some squeal-inducing moments of Hitchcockian force.

    Andre de Toth's excellent 1953 House of Wax included a frighteningly surreal sequence in which a fire breaks out in the museum (run by Vincent Price), licks the wax figures and melts them. The new film actually succeeds with a spectacular finale, having to do with a more literal interpretation of "house of wax," that lands almost on par with its predecessor. Likewise, it effortlessly tops Michael Curtiz's static, two-strip Technicolor original, Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933).

    Meanwhile, the film pays tribute to Robert Aldrich's What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1965) in a bizarre, wax-figure movie theater scene.

    The Hayes brothers also play with character expectations; one character begins as a nice guy and quickly turns into a weasel, while the jerk eventually redeems himself. The actors are mostly pretty faces from television, though Elisha Cuthbert (TV's "24," The Girl Next Door) has a shot at something bigger, and Paris Hilton is always fascinating, in a science experiment sort of way.

    The film's only drawback comes with Jaume Collet-Serra's direction. Yet another veteran of TV commercials and music videos, Collet-Serra does the usual by shaking the camera too much, using a sickly grayish color palette and "heightening" the tension by tossing out a speed-metal song every once in a while. But he does service the script nicely and does not sabotage an otherwise worthy effort.

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