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Almost Famous

Director Cameron Crowe extends his autobiographical homage to 70s rock —Risë Keller (DVD review...)

Patrick Fugit is Almost Famous

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Not only does House of Wax fail to live up to it’s predecessor, but makes a painful mockery of the classic horror genre in every way possible. Not even the skills of incredibly talented Paris Hilton can save this train wreck from crashing.

Let’s Split Up

Is Paris Burning? Audiences hope so.
Is Paris Burning? Audiences hope so.

When it comes to all of the great cliche horror movies, a basic formula is always followed: Simple plot, grizzly deaths, cheap laughs and nasty villains. The audience knows this going into it, but what makes these films appealing is the outside chance that the filmmaker has presented it with refreshing creativity. When this stereotypical code is bent or broken, you fall into risky business that can either turn out fantastic or disastrous.

The new House of Wax has absolutely no resemblance to Vincent Price’s classic, besides people dying and lots of wax. The 1953 film focused more on the killer, whereas the new film focuses on the other characters, which is essentially pointless, because we all know that everyone save a few will meet their demise very, very soon.

Ah, but not so very soon after all! In fact, nothing really happens for the entire first half of the movie. The beginning five minutes of your average horror film gets dragged on to a weary 45 minutes in this, making the senseless dialogue and horrendous acting almost unbearable to watch.

Paris Hilton’s 2nd Best Movie

Carly and Nick Jones (Elisha Cuthbert, The Girl Next Door and Chad Michael Murray, A Cinderella Story) are a set of arrogant and bratty twins who are traveling with four friends on a road trip to a college football game. Among the mates of Tweedledee and Tweedledum is Paige (Paris Hilton, Various Sex Tapes), who appropriately makes one of her first appearances in the movie by making out with her boyfriend while being filmed. I would say such a thing shouldn’t be necessary, but it actually goes well with the rest of the absolute ridiculousness in the film.

When one of their cars breaks down, Carly and her half-witted boyfriend, Wade (Jared Padalecki, Flight of the Phoenix) end up searching the deserted town of Ambrose in search of a fan belt. The rest of the crew hangs back at a camp site, but god knows why they decided on camping, considering they all look wealthy enough to get a decent hotel room. Carly and Wade continue searching the town for life, even going through the House of Wax, which sports a forest of creepy wax mannequins. They finally run into Bo (Brain Van Holt, S.W.A.T.), who runs the town’s service station.

Bo ends up accosting Carly and Wade, eventually splitting them up and capturing Carly. Meanwhile, Nick and his comic-relief friend decide that they have waited long enough, and venture to Ambrose in search of the missing members of their party, leaving Paige to do what she does best with her boyfriend. We finally meet our deranged killer at this point, who showers his victims with melted wax and molds them into statues while still alive, which truly is a cool concept. Tragically, the movie’s ultimate destiny is to fail at frightening us, so we see this only once. Don’t blink.

The film goes on being maddeningly trite and unoriginal as the characters quickly start dropping like flies. I’ll give the film credit in one surprising moment when a main character is unexceptionally mangled, but besides that exception, nothing else happens.

Melting Down

The most frustrating part of House of Wax are the endless events that consistently tease the audience without any satisfying result. We sit through the most pointless character drama, only to come out annoyed and hating every last one of them. This wouldn’t be such a bad idea if we were paid off with elaborate and exciting death scenes, but alas, we aren’t graced with many.

And the killings overshoot the story’s logic and reason! We know that the killer is making wax mannequins out of his victims, encasing them in a lifelike shape and position, but this becomes impossible when he is killing his victims by lopping off limbs and smashing poles through their faces. Very shortly, the intriguing mythology is destroyed and we are left with an average serial killer.

The horrifically bad acting is noticeably worse than anything else in the film, but shouldn’t be so quickly blamed on the actors, showing the faults of amateur director Jaume Serra (who’s only previous experience with directing is music videos). On more than one account, a character is seriously injured and neither shows any sign of pain or handicap. For instance, one person gets shot through the chest and arm with arrows, but then has no problem having a twenty minute fist fight. Having a hole in your lung doesn’t seem to bother people in Ambrose.

The most memorable moment out of this film for my audience was when Paris Hilton’s fate is finally decided. There was a standing ovation in the theater with much cheer and laughter, and I wasn’t too surprised. With the way she has objectified and exploited herself, I wonder if at the premiere, she too was applauding.