Tuesday, January 27, 2009

House of Wax (2005)

Reviewed by Jeremy Melton

You know, I really feel the need to defend this movie. More than any other film, this one is a real bone of contention at Tower Farm headquarters. Billy refuses to purchase it. He has no desire whatsoever to see it ever again. I, on the other hand, bought it within a week of seeing it for the first time (at Billy’s apartment, no less) and I am currently watching it for about the 700th time.

When you really love something, you don’t love it in spite of its flaws. You love it because of its flaws. Frankly, it is hard to think of any movie in recent history that has gotten a theatrical run that is more flawed than this horror mess. Other than Black Christmas.

Well, I am going to have to start this review by discussing the characters in this movie.

First, we have Carly Jones, played by Elisha Cuthbert. Elisha Cuthbert inexplicably rose to fame a few years ago after starring in the show 24. It is hard to even call what she does “acting”. She is able to scream, look bored, and/or smile. That is about it. She certainly cannot give a convincing laugh. Each of her chuckles is embarrassingly forced. In this particular movie, she trades her painfully bleached locks for what appears to be a Carol Burnett wig. She runs around this movie in a wife beater sleeveless shirt that only accentuates her boyish build and boxy shoulders. A stranger final girl, I cannot imagine. But, this is what we get.

Her boyfriend, Wade, is played by Jared Padalecki. This guy is pretty bland. The only striking thing about him is that he appears to be about 7 feet tall and has a Rosie O’Donnell haircut. The short haircut she got about week after coming out of the closet. There is one quick shot in this movie where Wade and Carly are walking next to one another down a road and she barely comes up past his elbow. Man, that is one tall lesbian.

Chad Michael Murray plays Nick, Carly’s troublemaker brother. You know the type- in and out of jail, tough as nails… except that it is Chad Michael Murray. So, it doesn’t make sense. Mr. Murray put this movie out at the peak of his fame with the WB show One Tree Hill. I am sure his agent thought this was going to be the stepping stone that made Chad a movie star. Unfortunately, as of this writing, his is now completing year six of the most boring show on television.

Dalton is Nick’s friend. He is not really in the movie for any other reason than to be the butt of a couple of early jokes and to add to the body count.

Blake is another friend. He is the whitest black character I have seen since Whitley was introduced on the show A Different World. He does have my favorite line, however. After smelling something gross, Wade says, “Something died out there”. Blake retorts, “Something died right here… and we need to drink it back to life!”. And the party begins! Thank you, Blake, for the dumbest bit of nonsense to come out of anyone’s mouth on screen for a long time.

My favorite “character”, though, is Paige. I put “character” in quotations because she is played by Paris Hilton, who forgoes any characterizations and just plays herself. Much like Chad Michael Murray, Paris put this movie out at the peak of her fame, as well. Unfortunately, at this time she was really most famous for a leaked videotape showing her posing for a recorder on “night mode” while getting screwed by some sleazeball. House of Wax takes the classy step of referencing this infamous internet sensation by having a scene placed in where Dalton is videotaping what appears to be Paris giving head to her boyfriend. Blake is leaned back and grinning and her head is bobbing up and down. It is filmed in green, just like Paris’s real porno clip. We find out, though, she was just looking for some lip gloss she dropped. Funny stuff. Let me tell you, it is a real relief when Paige finally dies off.

So, this group is out on a trip to some football game. Like many horror movies, a group is thrown together that would never be friends with each other in real life. All of their interactions are terribly awkward. And they are supposed to all be best friends! Ridiculous!

The best thing, though, is that we find out that none of them have tickets to this football game anyway (they are planning to get them from scalpers). So, they get lost and tired and decide to camp… because they all brought camping equipment.

I am sorry, but that is just going too far. I know this movie was marketed toward teenagers that would probably be too busy necking and copping feels than to notice something like that. But come on! They are going to a football game without tickets and brought camping equipment, so, in the event they got lost, they could just pull off of the road and put up their tents?? Who wrote this?? Who okayed that draft???

Anyway, a car breaks down. They miss the game. Blah, blah, blah. All of this leads to them finding the wax museum. As it turns out the entire building is constructed of wax.

Of course, this begs the question, what happens to this place during the summer? Does it melt? Do the walls get so soft they collapse under their own weight? How many times a year do the owners have to rebuild entire sections because there were no clouds in the sky to block the sun’s radiation? These are the kinds of questions I cannot answer.

The first kill happens about an hour into the movie. Okay, I’ll admit this is way too long for a first kill. I mean, this kind of movie should start its kills no later than 15 minutes in. But, I will forgive it because the kills and carnage from this point on are all wonderful.

For example, Wade gets strapped into a chair and covered in hot wax. Later, another character starts pulling away the wax (while Wade is alive!) and pulls off all of the skin on his face.

I really had thought I had seen in all, but I have to admit I was pretty surprised when the killer snips off Carly’s finger. When does that ever happen in a horror film? The main character, the survivor, has a finger cut off? I suppose the really surprising thing, though, is how quickly she gets over it. She wraps up the stub and just keeps moving like nothing is wrong. That kind of toughness is rarely seen outside of Rambo movies.

The best death in this movie, though, happens to its best “character”. To begin, the killer chases Paris Hilton from the campsite into some sort of car graveyard… the same sort of car graveyard that country killers seem to always have around (Wrong Turn, Wrong Turn 2, Wolf Creek). The kind of place where the viewer is supposed to think to himself, “Oh my God, just how long has the killer been doing this?”. I really think it would be funny to show a buggy with an attached horse skeleton in one of these places.

Anyway, as Paris is running around she is screaming. Well, that is not quite accurate. Paris is squawking. There is no other word to describe the noises she is making. She sounds like an injured crane.

Finally, she is killed when our waxy killer tosses a javelin right through her head. Obviously, I would have preferred seeing the javelin bounce right off with an accompanying “bonk” sound. But, I cannot say I am unhappy here. The pole just goes right through (which may be a comment on Paris Hilton’s empty head) and she sort of falls forward. Somehow maintaining balance, she slides right down the piece of wood as the killer pulls out a video camera and films it. I am not going to make any comments about Paris sliding down a wooden shaft while being filmed, and I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t either.

After a little while, everyone is killed except Carly and her brother, Nick. It is then revealed that there is not one killer, but two-- Bo and his half-faced twin brother Vincent. This is supposed to be a surprise twist. But, anyone who saw the first ten minutes of the movie already knew that we were dealing with twin brothers. So, if you were at all surprised by this revelation, I need you to get checked by a professional for a learning disability.

You will never guess what happens during the big showdown. The house catches fire and starts melting.

Wait a minute… you guessed that? You must be cheating.

The killers end up dying and being buried in a giant lump of wax.

At the end, we find that siblings Nick and Carly are getting along again as the police and ambulances arrive to the rescue. Not a moment too soon. As Nick and Carly are being driven away in the back of an ambulance that does not have any paramedics in it, we learn that Nick stole the video camera because there are some “good memories” on it. I’ll bet he and Carly will regret that move once they get to the part where Carly’s best friend Paris Hilton is murdered.

Four fingers. Just like on Carly’s disfigured hand.



  1. I like this one too! And I actually enjoy Paris' performance in this - yes, I have sought psychological help.

    - Zac

  2. You didn't mention the looney with the big dump of animal corpses - he's the star for me. I thought this was easily the best Dark Castle since Haunted Hill. The others just got worse and worse, till this one blazed across the screen like fire. Actually, I've only ever seen this on DVD. But it's a beaut.

  3. The looney is the star for you?! That is hilarious... How did I miss him? I only saw this on DVD, too. I think this is probably one of those rare movies that is better that way. This one requires a pause button.