Dark Castle Productions continues to remake classic horror films (The House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts) with this version of 1953’s House of Wax, and unfortunately it has lost all the charm of its predecessor.
Vincent Price’s film had the wax museum located in the middle of the city, and part of the attraction of the original was that the sadistic crimes were carried out right before the eyes of the public. 2005’s House of Wax however, is set (surprise, surprise!) in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Thus we’re left with the usual remote location slasher film, where you can be sure the heroes/victims are gonna be spending most of their time running around looking for a telephone or transport out of there… And of course there is the prerequisite country bumpkin with a big knife scaring people early on (surely the South is getting pissed with the negative portrayals?)… And of course you’re gonna have some vacuous blonde bimbo running away from a crazed killer.
Speaking of Paris Hilton, to be perfectly honest she isn’t a terrible actor. Sure, she occasionally forgets where she is and simply poses, but apart from that she makes for a fine victim. It’s little hard to believe that Elisha Cuthbert’s Carly would be hanging out with a character like Paige, but thankfully Paris doesn’t spend too much time onscreen. Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray do a fantastic job in what is pretty much standard slasher movie fare.
There certainly are some squeamish moments in this film, and plenty of gore – the filmmakers never hold back. The tension never got too unbearable, but that was mainly due to the fact that Hollywood seems to think modern audiences have very short attention spans (ie: there has to be something loud and/or flashy occurring every minute and a half). Thankfully House of Wax doesn’t get bogged down in too many CGI effects (as The House on Haunted Hill did), and it was interesting to note the rip-off/homage to the very violent killing from Irréversible at one point.
Hopefully Cuthbert will be onto bigger and better things now that she has done the obligatory slasher film, as she certainly proved herself worthy in TV’s ’24’. There’s nothing here we haven’t seen before, but House of Wax sits comfortably in the genre without ever challenging our expectations.Rating: