Blu-ray Review: House of Wax (2005)

July 10, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Six incredibly good-looking young folks are on their way to a football game, but they get sleepy and shit, so they camp out under the stars… where they encounter the ultimate evil!
I’m just fucking with you… rather they rough it for a night, and the next morning they discover their car has shit the bed. A quick journey into the nearby town of Ambrose courtesy of a local yokel, where certainly a garage or service station will have them back on the road in no time!
Well, that would be the case if anyone actually lived there. You see, Ambrose is complete Tumbleweedsville, minus the one structure that does seem to have a sign of life, the eponymous House of Wax… a dread domicile packed to the rafters with wax figures that seem just a tad too realistic!
Soon our heroes will be doing their level-headed best to survive their stay in Ambrose, as the proprietors of the waxworks unleash their monstrous machinations!
You know, a ton of press at the time focused on the seemingly stunt casting of then red-hot reality TV and sex tape diva Paris Hilton (she’s perfectly fine in her role by-the-by), but there are plenty of things House of Wax (a kinda/sorta re-make of the 1953 Vincent Price classic… itself a re-make of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum) has going for it… and a couple of things that don’t…
In the plus column, this film has a likable, easy-on-the eyes cast (who’s ranks feature the aforementioned Hilton, Supernatural‘s Jared Padalecki, and Elisha Cuthbert) that are fun to follow on their way to sweet oblivion, a couple of memorable villains, some truly amazing set-pieces (the near apocalyptic ending is a thing of beastly beauty, and some creative kills along the way.
The picture also looks fantastic (thanks to the talents of cinematographer Stephen F. Windon) and director Jaume Collet-Serra does a fine job of keeping things moving forward… well, until the pacing of the narrative bogs things down a bit…
The long and the short of it is, House of Wax takes a meandering route to get where it’s going, and the first act takes a bit too long to play out (and at nearly 2 hours in length other sections stumble a bit as well). If this film was shorn of twenty minutes it would definitely hum right along, alas…
Speaking of time, if you are a fan of House of Wax there is plenty of bonus material on this Blu-ray release from Scream Factory to keep you glued to your couch for awhile!
First up we get interviews with Hilton, actor Robert Ri’chard, make-up effects artist Jason Baird, and composer John Ottman, followed by a collection of b-roll and blooper footage hosted by the cast.
Following that we get an announcement video by producer Joel Silver, featurettes on the film’s design and visual effects, an alternate opening sequence, a gag reel, archival interviews (as well as a featurette), and the film’s theatrical trailer.
A pretty solid entry in early 2000’s horror biz, House of Wax has some solid thrills and set-pieces, even if the film’s over-all pace is uneven.


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