So far Dark Castle Entertainment is zero for four (Gothika, Thirteen Ghosts, House on Haunted Hill and Ghost Ship– crap, crap, crap and crap)- but can they finally put a check in the other column with House of Wax, their remake of the classic Vincent Price movie from 1953?
It would feel daring to call this a remake, considering the only resemblance to the original is the fact that a character is named Vincent and that the movie revolves around Wax. The set up is pretty interesting as we follow a group of teens on their way to a football game to attempt to scalp some tickets. They decide to camp out on the way over to catch a few z’s when a stranger pulls up in a car and taunts them. After Nick Jones (Chad Michael Murray) scares him away they awake with one their cars not working and in need of a new belt. One couple head off into town to look for a new belt while the others head off in their working car to try and make the game. After getting stuck in traffic they flip and bitch and head back to the camping ground to pick up their friends only to find something’s not right.
Dark Castle always amazes me with their casting choices- among other interesting decisions. I do see the logic, casting an Academy Award Winner didn’t work, so why not try casting the medias #1 favorite publicity whore Paris Hilton? It’s obvious that making a good movie wasn’t their number one obligation, it was making money. They had a solid idea, an extremely cool killer and a third act that was phenomenal- so why waste it all on casting like it’s Scream 4? That’s Dark Castle for you- all the money, half the effort…
So they cast your new favorite heartthrobs, how’d they do? Well Chad Michael Murray was easily the best. He starts off as this bad ass twin brother to Elisha Cuthbert, you think he’s a prick but slowly director Jaume Serra gives us small doses of what he’s really like. I believed his character more than any other. Paris Hilton though, what more can I say- she played (what appears to be) herself. Paris does lots of kissing, making out and staying behind for some yummy sex- then she drops down to her panties for a little dance just in time to die. Her acting? She forgot to scream, she more or less yelps- she’s been dragging that f’n dog with her a little too much if you ask me…
Although the movies build is extraordinarily slow and things don’t pick up until about 45 minutes into it, the set up is perfect and the end swerve is excellente’. Highlight for spoiler explanation:The way the story is told you think the town has inhabitants, and you keep saying to yourself “is this fucking House of Wax ever going to come into play?” Well it turns out that the entire town IS the House of Wax- very cool indeed. The movie builds and sets everything up perfectly for it’s turnaround in Act III. Of course there are the flaws here and there such as Paige (Paris) being (surprisingly enough) pregnant. Her hubby doesn’t know and Carly (Elisha) tells her she needs to tell him now! Well at no point does this ever come up again. So the point of it? Don’t ask me, I didn’t write it. Speaking of stupid unnecessary “additions” to the plot, just wait until you hear the last line of the movie- never in the history of cinema have I ever heard something so irrelevant to the prior hour and half. The Hayes brothers deserve a swift kick in the balls for that line alone.
But to give them some credit, not only was the set up really well done, but they did something that most horror films don’t do these days- avoid cliché’s. When the bad guy is down for the count and the girl leans in for something, what happens? You know what happens… or do you? Thumbs up for mixing up those cliché’s fellas!
Forget the trials and tribulations of a formulaic horror film, was it bloody, was it scary? People who’ve seen Irreversible will truly appreciate this comment, there is a scene where someone gets their head bashed in with a baseball bat that had me gasping as much as I did when that dude had his face jacked in with that fire hydrant in Irreversible. You’ll get plenty of Achilles heels sliced, heads popped open, people waxed alive, fingers cut off and anything else disturbing you can possibly think of. House of Wax found a way to carry that same tone as Platinum Dunes’ remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Although the casting was stupid and the pacing off balance, the movie found a way to be quite disturbing and grotesque.
Between the amazing melting wax finale, hefty gore and interesting story- Warner Bros. and Dark Castle finally and I do mean finally have something worthy on their hands. Sure it’s still got the stench of shit floating all over it, but the final act really did me in. It was brutal and unforgiving- Jaume Serra must have said, “I’m a fucking horror fan and I’m going to give these fans what I know they want!” Finally a step in the right direction, now quit casting like goofballs and stop adding things here and there for the general audience and Dark Castle might have finally figured out the formula for a fun horror film. I can’t wait to see what they do with The Reaping, even though they’re going back to the Academy Award Winner route… oh yeah this time the winner (Hilary Swank) has TWO awards!