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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon

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The House of Wax

As sure as the winter season brings snow and rain, summer is sure to bring sequels and remakes to theaters across the land. With many classic horror films such as “The Amityville Horror:”, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” already released and with “The Fog”, pending, Hollywood is trying to find gold from the past.

The latest remake to make the screen is The House of Wax which shares precious little with the 1953 Vincent Price classic aside from the title house and an abundance of wax figures. The story follows Carly Jones, (Elisa Cuthbert), a young college graduate who is planning to move from her small town to take an internship in New York. Her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki) is unsure if he will follow her to the big city which is a source of tension between the otherwise happy couple.

Carly and Wade decide to take a road trip to a big sporting event, and have their friends Paige (Paris Hilton), Blake (Robert Ri’chard), Dalton (John Abrahams), and Carly’s brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray), along for the ride. In a true horror film cliche, the road trip becomes and overnight campout in a remote backwoods area where drinking, sex, and other youthful merriment abounds.

Of course the merriment is interrupted when a strange encounter with a mysterious truck and an unexpectedly broken car fan belt in the morning forces Carly and wade to stay behind to locate the needed part in a nearby town while their friends continue on to the game.

The local town is mostly empty, and looks like something out of the 60’s aside from numerous signs that tout the local wax museum. While exploring the empty town, Carly and Wade stumble upon a church where a service is in session, and meet Bo, (Brian Van Holt), who is the local mechanic who tells them he can get the needed part as soon as the service has ended. With time on their hands, Carly and Wade visit the local wax museum which is equally deserted, but filled with life like figures.

When Carly suddenly sees a bizarre figure lurking in the shadows the events soon unfold leaving Carly and Wade trapped in a nightmare that is out of control. As if that was not bad enough, their friends have become stuck in traffic and decide to forgo the big game and return to pick up Carly and Wade not knowing bizarre nightmare they are about to encounter.

Despite some flaws, House generally works and as horror films go, is entertaining. Sure the characters and plot are paper thin and characters seem to have a severe lack of common sense, yet despite the flaws, there are some good moments. The film goes almost 50 minutes before the mayhem starts, but when it does, the killings are some of the most brutal in horror film history. On more than one occasion during my press screener did I see a member of the audience hiding their face in the shoulder of a significant other during some of the films more intense moments.

The film also has a good villain that while not well defined, is nevertheless chilling and projects menace very well. The cast works well with one another given the limitations of the genre, and the pacing of the film by first time director Jaume Serra is effective in adding a bit of tension yet keeping the adrenalin moving during key parts.

My biggest issue with the film would be the ending that I thought took the Hollywood way out, with a big effects spectacle instead of staying focused on the characters and their plight, That being said, as mindless Summer thrills The House of Wax is a decent if albeit at times lacking film.

3 stars out of 5


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