Directed by Jaume Serra. Running time: 1:45. MPAA rating: Rated R for horror violence, some sexual content and language.
Elisha Cuthbert……….Carly Jones
Chad Michael Murray……….Nick Jones
Brian Van Holt……….Bo/Vincent
Paris Hilton ……….Paige Edwards
Jon Abrahams……….Dalton Chapman
It is almost becoming formula to view a newly released horror film, sit down for a review, and mention how this new generation of horror is just bad. That a film is full of quick-cuts, cheap scares, lack of a logical plot, and one dimensional characters. This is horror today, and it will not end until people stop making films like Hide and Seek or The Amityville Horror number one at the box office the weekend they debut. With that being said, another horror “reimagining” has been unleashed on the public this weekend. And, while it does nothing to revolutionize the horror genre, or anything great at all really, House of Wax is easily the best horror movie released this year.
Yes, the best released this year. But, given everything else released so far, does that say much?
The film offers up a standard horror plot. A group of young adults take a road trip together to the biggest college football game of the year. Once on the way, they opt to take a shortcut to get there faster, and camp for the night. The next day they have some car trouble and decide to explore a nearby town to try and fix their problem. Unfortunately for them, the town is long abandoned, and the only sign of a human presence is the wax museum, and the amazingly life-like figures within. On top of that, there is a homicidal maniac on the scene, and by the time everything is said and done, everyone will not make it out alive.
The plot is pretty basic, but that can always be salvaged by an interesting cast of characters. Unfortunately, said cast is missing from this production, and instead the audience is given a group of six people and no reason to care. The main character Carly (Cuthbert) is a smart girl in what best could be described as a ‘love triangle’ with her boyfriend Wade (Padalecki) and goofy-guy Dalton (Abrahams). Otherwise, it is unclear why Dalton is aroundNick (Murray) is Carly’s twin and is the ‘badboy’ of the group. Rounding out the cast is token black guy Blake (Not meant to be offensive, but really, this guy did nothing to deserve screen time except to die) and his air-headed girlfriend Paige (Hilton). If the cast was stellar, any and all complaints of a stale plot would vanish. Sadly, it is easier to believe these people were cast more for their looks then for their abilities. As actors, most of the delivery is off and the performances are stale. As characters, they are just morons. The decisions these people make are so, so stupid people are actually begging for them to be killed off. And Paris Hilton is just awful. Yes, it seems like its jumping on the bandwagon to hate on her and her role her, but words do not describe her performence here. It is just bad. There is no reason this woman should be given any role, major or minor, on film, and her acting is so pathetic it was cringe-inducing on its own. Her role was limited, and she was still on the screen too much. Hers was a death cheered throughout the packed theater, but it did not come quick enough, nor was it anything overly spectacular (or realistic).
That is another major flaw with this film. The running time is about an hour and forty-five or so, and it is almost forty-five minutes before anything remotely interesting happens on film. That includes no deaths, no shocking scenes, and very little character development. By the time the film begins to gather steam, people are already bored out of their minds, and this is a shame because this movie is very intense. In fact, it was a surprise the lengths this film went to. There are at least three scenes that literally make the viewer cringe. This probably will not apply for hardcore horror enthusiasts, or those very familiar with older slasher films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the average movie-goer will most likely be caught off guard. This movie really makes the recent scary films tame in comparison to the graphic scenes of attack and death. It was a very good decision to go with the R rating, and that really brought the film up some notches.
There are some other positives as well. The film is beautiful and the idea of everything being made out of wax is executed as well as it could be. There are a few surprises, including the aforementioned scenes of brutality. The characters, while stale, definitely do not die off in the typical order people expect. The dynamic of the villian is nothing new, but they do treat it a little differently than the norm, and thus make it fresher than it would have been otherwise. The interaction between the two main characters, Carly and Nick, is another breath of fresh air. By making the two twins, it eliminates the cliched romance/love plot, and instead makes it a family thing. These two are family, and will go above and beyond to save each other. It is something that is not seen that often, and it really works well here. Nick is also not quite the typical horror hero; while his character is shallow, his actions are surprising and another great take on convention.