House of Wax 2005 follows a group of friends making a road trip to catch a college football game. When they stop off in a small town to camp for the night, the friends encounter a series of strange events. The group soon discovers that the town they have stopped in is home to a bizarre and intricately crafted wax museum. The more time they spend there, the more evident it becomes that something sinister has a foothold on the town and whatever that is soon begins to come after them.
House of Wax 2005 has a much longer than average running time. It clocks in at just under two hours. In spite of being longer than the average horror flick, it doesn’t drag much. The film is effectively paced and builds to a dramatic and highly enjoyable conclusion.
The additional running time allows the picture to delve into the primary characters’ backstory and interpersonal relationships, making the main protagonists (Elisha Cuthbert, James Padalecki, and Chad Michael Murray) as well as the villains easier to identify with and ultimately more interesting.
As far as the secondary characters, they are more or less there to get killed off and they do well enough at that. Paris Hilton’s character, Paige, dies a delightful death. It would seem that the primary motivation for casting Hilton was to kill her off. The socialite seems to have more detractors than fans and her onscreen death is especially gruesome. So it’s not a big stretch to assume that she was cast for the sake of being killed off. Whatever the reason behind Hilton’s attachment to the film, it ultimately works. Her performance isn’t inspired, it’s not even very good, but it’s worthwhile when her character kicks the bucket. Robert Ri’chard, who plays Hilton’s onscreen love interest, Blake, isn’t a much better actor than Hilton but his screen time is minimal, so it’s tolerable.
The effects featured in House of Wax 2005 are above average and make up for the feature’s shortcomings. Not only are the gore FX brilliant, the wax museum and the wax sculptures are really good, as well.
It has often been said that House of Wax 2005 is more like a remake of the 1970s horror film Tourist Trap than a reimagining of Vincent Price’s House of Wax. There is definite truth to that; there are a plethora of similarities between Tourist Trap and this 2005 reboot of House of Wax but either way, the concept works pretty well. The film is chock full of creepy atmosphere and features enough original ideas to separate itself from both the Vincent Price original and David Schmoeller’s Tourist Trap.
There is a surprising restraint when it comes to nudity in House of Wax 2005. There’s plenty of sexual innuendo and the like, but no actual nude scenes. The film isn’t lacking as a result, however. There’s no point where a nude scene was explicitly called for and left out. So, if you’re looking for a T&A fest, you won’t find it here but it’s really not necessary.
If you missed this one upon its initial release, House of Wax 2005 is an enjoyable film with a couple of good twists, ample gore, and an exciting finale.
Director(s): Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer(s): Charles Belden, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Stars: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, James Padalecki
Studio/ Production Co: Dark Castle Entertainment
Budget: $40 Million
Length: 113 Minutes