Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Film Review: House of Wax (2005)

House of Wax (Review)
United States/Australia/2005
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's certainly interesting and entertaining, but there are moments where there isn't much going on."

A group of teenagers traveling to a football game stumble upon a peculiar town with a House of Wax museum...

House of Wax is your fairly basic slasher, although it offers a few interesting ideas and plot points. The film follows a group of teenagers, but it primarily follows Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and her brother, Nick (Chad Michael Murray). So, this group of six teenagers are traveling to a football game. Of course, they decide to take a shortcut, which leaves them camping in the woods. A man in a truck watches them from afar, which disturbs the group, but the man eventually leaves. The following morning, Carly's boyfriend, Wade, finds his car has been tampered with. So, Carly and Wade travel to a small town – the home of a famous house of wax. While there, they also find the residents are not who they seem and a savage serial killer lurks. I won't spoil anything else (even though it's not all that surprising). The film leads to a decent climax and the expected finale. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Although House of Wax often reverts to a bunch of tropes, I actually enjoyed the film. It's not a bad slasher. There are a few scenes with genuine suspense. There are a few jump-scares, too – maybe one or two actually work. The grisly deaths were impressive. It's not the goriest film, but some of the death scenes are well-executed. I liked the overall 'House of Wax' concept, as well. The wax 'sculptures' offer some very cool imagery. With that said, this is still a fairly generic film. We have the same characters making the same convenient mistakes. We have the obligatory 'run in your panties and hide' scene. There's the weak 'twist' at the end that offers very little to the plot. It's also a bit too long for its own good. I was starting to get bored by the third act. It's certainly interesting and entertaining, but there are moments where there isn't much going on.

The acting is okay. It's far from the best, but it's not the worst I've ever seen. Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray perform well as the leads. Paris Hilton is also in this movie. She's... Well, she's not very good, but she's not the worst. That's something, right? (Then again, I've seen a lot of movies, so she might be the worst for a few of you out there.) I think some of these performances also suffer from some very generic and stiff dialogue. The film is shot well. The music didn't do much for me, but at least it wasn't obnoxious. The film is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Jaume can craft some suspenseful scenes and he delivers in the bloody goods department, but the film is ultimately derivative. It is a remake (of a film I have not seen – Sorry, Vincent!) and it fails to really make a splash. Couple that with a few dragged out scenes and plenty of cliches and you have writing and direction that could have been so much better.

Overall, House of Wax is an entertaining slasher. I really enjoyed the setting, I liked the suspense, and the death scenes were effective. The characters were generic, but at least they were annoying. There are some pacing and bloating issues, as well as some mediocre writing and weak performances, but it still manages to entertain. If you're into these type of slashers, I think you'll enjoy this one.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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