Inside you’ll find our first of three reviews for Warner Bros. and Dark Castle’s upcoming House of Wax, which hits theaters May 6th. Brian Myers, who also interviewed Ms. Paris Hilton here, also has a few more interviews popping up in the coming week. But I know everyone is dying to know, will Dark Castle be zero for five? It doesn’t look like it will turn out that way- not exactly that is…
House of Wax, a review in two parts, by Brian Myers.
The only way to review House of Wax is almost to review it as two completely separate movies, the first hour and the second hour. That’s right kiddies, this bad boy is almost two hours long, but it’s not a solid two hours.
PART ONE: The First Hour:
The first hour of this film, while competently shot, is entirely too long and slow. We are introduced to the characters and find out all their little quirks and such, as well as that they are on a trip to a football game. Problem is, do we really need an hour of character development and plot set up? I say no. This almost makes you want to leave at the 45-minute mark, but I implore you to stick through it for the second half, which is great! So as far as characters go we have the usual suspects, Carly, the princess (Elisha Cuthbert), Wade, the prince (Jared Padalecki), Nick, the bad boy (Chad Michael Murray), Dalton, the buddy (Jon Abrahams), Blake, the dumb jock/homey (Robert Ri’chard), and Paige, the skank (Paris Hilton). The dynamic is there, but we’re given too much detail on these characters that we just want to see get skittled by a psychopath, in this case psycho twins played extremely well by Brian Van Holt, whom we meet after the end of the first half of the film. The surprise is that Paris Hilton isn’t atrocious; in fact she actually does a good job. However, she’s so over-exposed it’s hard to separate her from her character, whenever she’s onscreen, you know its Paris Hilton. Elisha Cuthbert is always good, and Chad Michael Murray is very good as the brooding twin brother to Cuthbert. Ri’chard and Abrahams are pretty much cookie cutter characters, and really, are just there so they can get killed in a horrible ways. This whole section of film could have been much tighter if it had been cut in half. I found myself checking my watch several times and was shocked to find that in one hour of film there were really only a scant couple of suspenseful or graphic moments. One such moment was when Carly (Cuthbert) falls face first into a rotting pile of road kill carcasses. Aside from that you get the obligatory creepy back woods pick up, and a bit of the good old stalker routine, both of which would have been much more effective if not spaced so far from the actual action that takes place during the second hour.
PART TWO: The Second Hour:
Now here’s where this film shines, when Carly and Wade get to the town and the actual House of Wax. Once it’s go time it moves and rarely stops. The kills are great, and there are a couple of wounds that will make you cringe. Sure they make the usual splatter movie missteps, snooping around places they shouldn’t and all of that jazz, but the way that people get taken out is well worth the generic situations. The house itself is amazingly creepy, everything is wax and lets face it wax dummies are just creepy. I must tell you to prepare yourself for one of the greatest Achilles tendon hits ever. It hurt just to watch it. Paris Hilton’s death sequence is just flat out fun to watch, you find yourself salivating waiting for the sweet penetration that only a 4 foot steel pipe to the face can bring! Brian Van Holt does an amazing job as Bo and Vincent, two different sides of psychotic, Bo is the more Freddy Kruegeresque killer, with swagger and bravado and is extremely sadistic and he is defiantly a kick to watch. Vincent is the silent Michael Myers type, who tends to lurk more in the shadows and take out his prey with stealthy precision. Some of the set pieces in this second half are incredible, the machine Vincent uses to coat his victims in wax looks like some kind of medieval torture device. The climax of the film is a bit over the top, but it doesn’t hurt the film at all, and the coolness of the finale greatly outweighs any flaw that might come from some overzealous pyro.
As far as the film as a whole, it’s hard to say that the great outweighs the bad, as an hour of setup is just inexcusable when you’re making someone sit in a theater for two hours. Jaume’s visual style is apparent, and he does a great job with the direction of the actors and effects. However I feel the fault rests on the shoulders of the writers, Chad & Carey Hayes. There’s entirely too much exposition and there’s certain moments that are meant to be symbolic and just come out lame. The soundtrack is nothing special and is mostly generic nu-metal and rap. Overall I say the film is worth picking up on DVD but I’m not sure I’d pay the money for a movie ticket and snacks.
I give it a 6 out of 10 skulls