House of Wax

House of Wax (2005) movie poster

(2005) director Jaume Collet-Serra
viewed: 12/12/2011

Whereas 1953’s House of Wax was a pretty straight-up re-make of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), 2005’s House of Wax merely takes “inspiration” from the 1953 film of the same name.  Basically, I guess that they thought it would be better as a slasher film.

For me, and apparently for a number of others, the impetus to watch this film was to watch Paris Hilton get killed.  Hilton has a supporting role in the film and does indeed meet a gruesome end.  Oddly, however, she’s not bad in the film, much better than in “reality” or however you would classify her more well-known cultural contributions.

And this is perhaps true of House of Wax as a whole; it’s better than you’d think it would be.  Panned at the time it was released, I really had only kept it in my queue for that vicarious slaying of the hotel heiress.  And after re-watching the two earlier “Wax Museum” movies, I decided to strike while the wax was hot, if you will.

The film is helmed by Jaume Collet-Serra, whose 2009 film Orphan also wound up being a bit better than you would think at first guess.

Taking the Wax Museum out of the city and moving it to the sticks (a small Southern town) sets the scene for a group of young, attractive 20-somethings to bound around and get stabbed, skewered, what-have-you and then dipped in wax to become part of the town’s waxworks.

Not only does the entire town turn out to be the waxworks but the “house of wax” is literally a “house of wax”.  The entire structure is wax, floor, ceilings, walls,…not just the human figures.  This makes for one of the film’s most interesting sequences, the melting of the whole house and the escape from the molten wax that the survivor(s) must make.

Well, it surprised me that it was as decent as it was.

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