Sunday, March 13, 2011

House Of Wax (2005) - 3/5

At this point, its silly to be afraid of horror film remakes. No use whining about them. No use boycotting them, because they are going to happen. Might as well support them and hope they keep our favorite franchises alive and in theaters (why else would one torture themselves on the new "Nightmare" film?). At the time of "House Of Wax" though, I was on a strict remake boycott and missed it. I found respect for its director later with "Orphan" which allowed me the courage to back track to this little Dark Castle release, only to find that it wasn't the pure 'shit' that many claimed it to be, but a fairly entertaining slasher with an over the top concept. It's not great - can anyone really use that word with a film featuring Paris Hilton? - but it is a slick and fun ride for horror fans.

A group of college friends are on their way to Louisiana for the biggest football game of the year, when a young couple, Carly (Cuthbert) and Wade (Padalecki), find their car with a broken belt in the engine. Stranded, they accept a ride from a rather hillbilly-ish man to the closest town, Ambrose, to find the part they need. What they find in Ambrose is a disturbing recreation of life at the hands of two brothers whose obsession with finishing their mother's wax collection has started to take a twisted turn.

Not at all resembling the original 1953 "House Of Wax" that this film pulls its title from, this modern horror slasher really doesn't pull a lot of new punches. It sticks to what works in modern slashers. Isolation from the rest of society (woods, empty small town). Group of young leads whose friends are relatively immature people. A killer with a mask (this time a man with a wax face). So for fans of horror, this isn't anything new. We've seen it before. They run the gauntlet of all the cliche's here including an abandoned factory that seemingly comes out of the blue for Hilton's death scene. Nothing about this script is all that new and exciting in all honesty.

This film does seem to have a lot of fun with itself. Much of this has to do with Collet-Serra (director) and his knack for making B-movies look stylish and snazzy. There are plenty of cool shots, in particular a very cool scene with a swiveling camera shot around the foot of a pool table, and he treats the more ridiculous elements with an almost odd sense of artistic tongue in cheek. The art and set design help with this and raise the fun level of the film (the wax museum and church look very cool) and the odd moments of dark humor ring pretty true. An odd sequence where the brother Bo snips off our leading ladies finger comes to mind with how over the top and somewhat humorous this film can be.

"House Of Wax" isn't reinventing the wheel here, but it has its charm and a good use of the humor it has in it. It's a fun little slasher that works better then it should thanks to some solid leads (luckily Ms. Hilton isn't a lead) and a director with a little pizazz up his sleeve. Not near the disappointment I was lead to believe it was.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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