House of Wax (2005)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Slasher Film, Teen Movie  |   Release Date - May 6, 2005 (USA)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Jeremy Wheeler

Dark Castle's fifth foray into the horror business brings a healthy dose of inventively cruel killings to the big screen, but not without infuriating and downright belittling its audience thanks to an idiotic ensemble of hot teens that serve as the film's waxy fodder. Funny enough, the worst thing about House of Wax isn't Paris Hilton! As amazing as it might sound, the wealthy Hollywood dish isn't the acting train wreck you'd expect her to be, while her glorious death should definitely please all of the haters out there (thus the promotional shirts with "Watch Paris Die" emblazoned on them). No, the thing that cripples this rehashed remake is the rest of the dummies that litter the plot. There's nothing wrong with flirting with horror clich├ęs, but there's a maddening sense of "What are you thinking?" that plagues almost every main character as soon as they split off from the pack. Now the upside of this is the genuine pleasure you get in seeing all of them die horrible deaths, but there's little excuse for forcing the audience to put up with these horny twits for over half of the movie just to dish out a few bloody payoffs afterward. Being a slasher devote is one thing, but you get the idea that the filmmakers (including producers Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver) are just plain lazy and banking on the late scares to carry the film. That said, there are a few fine aspects to the production; namely the art deco-inspired production design and the downright torturous glee that is delivered in the numerous nasty moments in the picture. Commercial veteran Jaume Collet-Serra makes his big-screen debut here and does a fair job of delivering the scares and popcorn fun, though he's obviously shackled with laborious pacing problems thanks to the subpar script. The scare flick also suffers from an overload of unnecessary musical choices that serve little purpose other than to highlight worthless rap/rock tracks from various Warner Bros. music labels featured on the soundtrack. Despite all of this, House of Wax is still easily the best Dark Castle film to date, and its fiery finale proves to be far more satisfying than the company's previous overblown CG endings (see 2002's Ghost Ship for the sad and horrible proof).