House of Wax (2005) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

House of Wax (2005) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on June 19th, 2020 | Movie Review | Survival, Road Trip, Teen, House of Wax Series

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It's about a group of teens on a doomed road trip through an old (seemingly) abandoned town with an old (definitely) freaky wax museum.

House of Wax was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (who also directed The Shallows and Orphan) and stars Elisha Cuthbert (from Captivity), Paris Hilton (from Nine Lives and Repo The Genetic Opera) and Jared Padalecki (from Friday the 13th and Cry Wolf).

Prey. Slay. Display

One of the coolest parts of both of the previous House of Wax movies was the emphasis on melting wax sculptures. Both featured a fire scene with close-ups of eyeballs falling out of melting wax heads. This reboot took the cool visual and really ran with it. The movie starts and finishes with an emphasis on boiling gooey scalding hot wax.

In both previous movies only the statues were wax. In this House of Wax, literally everything is made out of wax, including the actual building the wax museum is in. There's so much melting wax in this movie it's crazy, and super satisfying to watch.

Also satisfying was the subtle and creative foreshadowing scattered throughout. One example is the name of the abandoned town that was built around the wax museum, Ambrose, which is Latin for "immortal" (which this town full of only wax sculptures was). Another example would be the town theater showing What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, which is a classic thriller about two siblings anchored together, one adored and the other marred. Normally, formulaic horror movies like this tend to spoon feed you everything, this one surprisingly didn't.

So, is House of Wax a good movie? Let's just say it is the quintessential teen horror flick.

Like most other teen horror movies, especially those from the early 2,000's, it starts off with the overhead shot of a car driving on a highway with some grungy rock music blasting over the pre-credits. I've always secretly loved this cliche opening, it's such a fun way to start a movie it's one of the best things about teen horrors in general.

And then there's the obligatory introduction of all the boyfriends and girlfriends with a special emphasis on the couple who is secretly not getting along. Uh oh, what could it be!? (Spoiler: 9 out of 10 times it's because she's pregnant). And of course there's always the bonus friend who isn't in a relationship, the third wheel just tagging along. In most teen screams he's the wild card. In House of Wax there's two of these guys.

There's also the obligatory party scene where everybody is slamming beer and filming everything just for fun (until shit hits the fan of course, then someone will inevitably scream "get that camera out of my face!"). I probably shouldn't enjoy these scenes as much as I do, but for whatever reason they're a lot of fun. It's kind of like the calm before the storm.

But speaking of calm, House of Wax is honestly too calm for too long. A solid hour goes by before anything resembling horror even happens. Of course when the horror kicks in it really kicks in, but getting to the good stuff does require more patience than expected from a teen scream.

Alright, so moving on, time to talk about the elephant in the room. The reason why this House of Wax reboot even became a thing. Paris Hilton. Back when this movie rolled out she was all the rage (only a couple years removed from her infamous sex tape and a couple before her irrelevancy). She was on the cover of every tabloid, famous just for being famous. She's the great-granddaughter of the guy who started Hilton hotels and was also responsible for Kim Kardashian becoming a thing (she was Paris Hilton's stylist who also got famous for making a sex tape). Hilton, like Kardashian, was really just a sex symbol and she was cast in House of Wax to be just that. She literally does nothing in this movie except make out with a guy and offer up strip teases. The only role she has is looking sexy and getting killed (which is really what people showed up to see). It's kind of weird watching it now, so many years from Hilton's 15 minutes of fame, because her character just feels over-emphasized and unnecessary.

All that being said, this House of Wax reboot is awesome and I actually love that Hilton is in it, if anything for her epic kill scene. And there's so many good kills in this movie overall, it's a bloody mess. I've probably seen this reboot 3-4 times already and will surely be watching it again before long.

Worth Watching? 

Definitely. Ignore the bad ratings from genre outsiders on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. This movie is beloved within the horror community for a reason. It's a blast to watch.

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