A pretty strange rip-off of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," 2005's "House of Wax" attempts to combine the visceral terror of the Hooper classic with some of the concepts of the 1950s Vincent Price classic of the same name. The result is pretty muddled and unbelievable.
What provided much of the adrenaline-rush punch to sadistic terror offerings like "Last House on the Left," "The Blair Witch Project," "Texas" and its remake were the tales' believability. Fantastic as they were, they could have happened. "House of Wax," by contrast, could never take place. Yet the film still goes for the "so grim it could be true" approach. It doesn't work. The result is actually a pretty depressing movie.
Hottie Cuthert, her boyfriend, her brother (Chad Michael Murray), her buddy (Paris Hilton) and her buddy's boyfriend go on a roadtrip, when a storm puts them on a back-roads short cut, a la "Wrong Turn."
They run across a weird and scary redneck, who takes them to a lost town out in the middle of nowhere. In the center of town stands the "House of Wax," a wax museum so incredible that it is actually made of wax – that's right, the museum itself is pure wax. The museum features terrifying sculptures of non-celebrities, who look suspiciously like the kind of people who could have stumbled across this lost town in the past. The town, it seems, is on no map.
You already have an idea of what's been happening. It's been done before countless times, without the wax concept. You also know that this take on a familiar tale is pretty unbelievable because any "House of Wax" made of actual wax would be totally famous – not lost in some far-away town, even if every other person that stumbled upon the place had been killed off.
There is even a "leatherface" type character in the story, a terribly disfigured killer who has wax on his face instead of human skin. There are scary rednecks, and a storyline that desperately tries to navigate itself around the fact that kids in 2005 all have cellular phones that literally work in every part of the country.
"House of Wax" isn't bad, but isn't good either. It borrows way to liberally from the "Texas" franchise, and combining that whole concept with a wax museum theme lifted from a Vincent Price movie just doesn't hold wax. No pun intended, but this film doesn't hold a candle to the Price classic or any of the "Texas" films.
Produced by Dark Castle Entertainment, the folks who brought us "Thirteen Ghosts" and "The House on Haunted Hill," "House of Wax" doesn't hold a candle to those two films either. First-time director Collet-Serra took his subject matter way too seriously.
Cuthert, however, does look quite hot wearing a wife-beater top, and Hilton is fun to watch, particularly in a sequence that pays homage to her porn video scandal. "House" isn't a total wax job, but it does mark a bit of a downturn in horror quality for the remake craze that hit the scene in the 2000s.