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House of Wax

Midway through Dark Castle’s latest effort, House of Wax, thoughts began running through my head.

“Challenge Goodson to some Xbox Live Doom 3.”

“Do some laundry.”

“Remember to take some vitamins for the cold that’s been looming overhead the past week.”

Needless to say, when you find yourself making mental reminders such as these during a film, it likely means the film is not doing its job. Or maybe I was just bored.

House of Wax is actually pretty good, for being what it is, which is essentially a mindless, humdrum, run of the mill horror film chock full of cheese, gore, and cheap scares. If you are a fan of schlock horror, then certainly knock yourself out because House of Wax will please.

Like many remakes and retreads, House of Wax pulls its formula from more deservedly canonized and classically revered entries into the genre, but it surprisingly references very little from the original film upon which it is based. In fact, the similarities are essentially left at the premise stage, a museum of wax figures that are actually sculpted from the bodies of real people.

Instead of treading a similar arc, director Juame Serra and writers Chad and Carey Hayes owe much more to Tobe Hooper’s now infamous breakthrough film, as House of Wax is essentially The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in a wax museum. Both Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray bring enough to the table to keep us interested in their characters, sibling twins, Carly and Nick Jones, who are at odds with one another before things begin to melt underneath them.

You know the drill, a group of college students are on there way somewhere when they decide to take a short cut which ultimately leads to them bedding down in a potentially unsafe area, only to be attacked, cleaved, hacked, slashed, and mutilated beyond recognition. Serra provides a few surprises to spice up the ride, among them a reference to socialite-heiress Paris Hilton’s notorious xxx adventures with ex-boyfriend Rick Saloman.

Nick, Carly, and friends find their way one by one to the desolate town of Ambrose, equipped with the requisite house of wax from the film’s title. What ensues is an onslaught of twists and turns one comes to expect from films such as these, all of which centers around two brothers who were conjoined at birth and whose father performed an experimental procedure to separate them. This was followed by years of torture at the hands of their parents, but why and for what reason? Who knows.

It is interesting that the film attempts to draw parallels between a set of “good” fraternal twins and a set of evil identical twins. However, what exactly the film is trying to imply with this parallel is unclear.

Knowing the how to truly scare an audience into oblivion, Serra at times seems poised to flip the genre clichés on their ears, suggesting that our dear protagonists may not be as invincible as they appear, all the while feeding Hilton’s Paige Edwards some of the smarter decision making moments in the film. Frightening.

Either way, Serra seems oddly fixated with spearing his characters with bludgeoning objects, then lingering on to watch as said projectiles are slowly, and painfully, twisted and pulled from carcasses and appendages in excruciating detail. Perhaps porn and horror films aren’t as far removed from one another as we might like to think.


Mario Anima

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