House of Wax

The House of Wax remake is a flimsy house of cards. Aside from the title, there is little in common with the 1953 original. Instead, this is a cookie cutter horror film for today's audiences - stupid photogenic kids, a director with a background in music videos, murderous Southerners, and a series of gruesome killings. There are so many of these films that each one needs to come up with a way to top the last. Everything about this film, from the acting to the story are very uninspired. A bunch of kids are on their way to a football game when they get sidetracked and find themselves in Ambrose, a town so small it does not even appear on the maps.

Paris Hilton (The Cat in the Hat, Raising Helen) makes her official acting debut (after a number of cameos and one other 'unofficial' debut), which seems to be one of the selling points of House of Wax. Yes, her fifteen minutes are still incomplete, and if her performance here is any indication, she has little future in film. Her delivery is wooden and flat, as if she is aloof and better than everybody else around her. Director Jaume Serra even has some scenes where somebody tries filming her having sex. Gee, clever. And just think, Elisha Cuthbert left 24 to focus on her budding movie career, and chose to do things like this?

Serra has a lot to learn about lighting, probably the worst aspect of the entire film, and that's saying a lot. Things are far too dark most of the time; so dark that it's difficult to see most of the murders. That is the point then? Yes, most of the stuff takes place at night, but there simple ways to light nighttime scenes such that the audience can see what is on screen and it still looks like the night. The script by Chad and Corey Hayes (The Dark Side of the Moon) is just as bad. Teens that run around horror films typically have little intelligence, but they are especially stupid here. They split up far too often, and are too trusting of creepy gas station attendants (Brian Van Holt, Man of the House, S.W.A.T.).

Carly (Cuthbert, The Girl Next Door, Love Actually), her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki, Flight of the Phoenix, New York Minute), her twin brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray, A Cinderella Story, Freaky Friday), her best friend Paige (Hilton), Paige's boyfriend Blake (Robert Ri'chard, Coach Carter, Light it Up), and Nick's friend Dalton (Jon Abrahams, My Boss's Daughter, They) are road-tripping it. Carly and Nick had a falling out a while ago, and have a tenuous relationship. After a shortcut does not pan out, they spend the night in the woods. Wade's car breaks down, and he and Carly stay behind while the rest go on their way. Ambrose is deserted, and all of a sudden Wade's personality changes and he decides to trespass and do all sorts of other semi-illegal things. They enter a House of Wax, where they soon realize the figures are real people encased in wax. And the story, or what little exists, goes from there.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 46 minutes, Rated R for horror violence, some sexual content, and language.

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