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House of Wax(2005)
House of Wax tells the story of a group of friends who fall prey to a sinister plot while passing through a small town on their way to a college football game.
For more about House of Wax and the House of Wax Blu-ray release, see House of Wax Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 3, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
» See full cast & crew
House of Wax Blu-ray Review
Oh my gosh! House of Wax with Paris Hilton is like totally on Blu-ray!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 3, 2007
It is wax...like...literally!
In House of Wax, a remake of the Vincent Price classic, we get a like totally atmospheric, somewhat scary horror movie with, like, some teenagers who are going to like totally die by the hands of some whacked-out folks in some abandoned town. Like, hello? One of the baddies was a mechanic or something. He was like totally trustworthy at first, but then he totally kills one of the teenagers! And then there was like this museum made of wax, and it was soooo spooky! And then it like started to melt, and it got really hot inside. The people in this movie like lose their cell phones or don't answer them, so it makes it hard for our heroes to totally, like, text their BFFs every three minutes like they do when they are at the movies. They would have been like, "OMG: this place is totally NOT COOL!"
In all seriousness, House of Wax stars a plethora of teenagers who, you guessed it, will be knocked off one by one until one or two are left standing at the end. The main character and hero of the movie is Nick (Chad Michael Murray, Home of the Brave). He is the only character I liked in this film. He's the tough guy with a troubled past, but he's got a good head on his shoulders in a crisis situation and doesn't put himself first. His sister, Carly, (Elisha Cuthbert, 24), is the cookie-cutter girl who will find herself trapped by the maniac and will probably find a way to make him chase her around for a while and get in a few decent screams in the process. Also appearing are some more fodder, namely Carly's boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki, Flight of the Phoenix), Dalton (Jon Abrahams, Scary Movie), Blake (Robert Ri'chard, Coach Carter), and his girlfriend Paige (Paris Hilton, The Simple Life).
The six friends are on their way to the biggest college football game of the year. They take a detour that Blake's GPS system suggests, and of course the road is closed and they are forced to make the classic horror movie mistake of going through a dark, unsavory, and potentially dangerous area instead. On top of that, they decide to camp out in a random field they know nothing about. Soon enough a pickup truck drives up to them, shining its high beams, and doesn't budge until Nick breaks one of the lights with a beer bottle. The next morning, after finding the carcasses of dozens of road killed animals and meeting an odd man who puts them there, they split up--Carly and Wade go into town to get a new fan belt for his car, which mysteriously broke in the middle of the night, and the others head into the city for the football game. Eventually, the four will turn back around because they are going to be late for the game, and of course, most of them will not live to see another football game. The story gets a little more in-depth here. We find out a secret about the town, there are some grisly murders, and there is the typical modern horror-style editing, music, pace, and acting during the final act of the film.
That's House of Wax for you in a nutshell. This was a rather unimpressive film all around. It's a remake of a classic (please stop! Especially if you are going from Vincent Price to Paris Hilton) and it's a pretty generic film all around. I got many of the same vibes as I did while watching Gothika, another film I recently reviewed. I'm not surprised they both come from producer Joel Silver, who has several other films of this variety under his belt, such as Ghost Ship and Thir13en Ghosts, two more subpar, sort of creepy, generically atmospheric, dumbed down pictures that are of the "see 'em and forget 'em" type. The filmmakers have tried to create some side stories, I assume to make the characters more "real" or "sympathetic," but it comes off as rather trite and overblown. We discover Paris' character might be pregnant. OK, so what? Her being pregnant has absolutely no bearing on the story at all. It makes a movie that is already about 20 minutes too long that much longer (maybe 3-4 minutes) and there is no point to this sub plot. The characters in the film are pretty dumb, too. Perhaps the biggest offense is a scene where one character has been turned into a living wax sculpture. The character has lost all physical mobility, save for his eyes, and when his friend finds him, he proceeds to try and "get [him] out of this." He peels off a chunk of his skin revealing a bloody mess, so his solution is to peel more of his flesh off. I know he's dead already for all intents and purposes, but come on. Not the best way to try and rescue him. This film tries to distinguish itself visually, but I was never overly impressed. There are a few "artsy" shots throughout the movie but they don't add much to the film. It's more of a "ho-hum, look a that" reaction rather than a "wow! What a great shot!" reaction.
House of Wax Blu-ray, Video Quality
Warner Brothers 1.85:1, 1080p presentation of House of Wax looks fine for the most part. There is a pretty high level of detail throughout. However, this is a very dark picture. The film is grainy at times, especially in some of the very dark scenes. Colors are a tad muted. We rarely see any bright, vibrant colors. The wax museum, as one might expect, has a dull, colorless look about it. Some of the very dark scenes suffered from black crush. The print is in pretty darn good shape with no discernible defects or blemishes. The image never appears three-dimensional. It looks rather flat and lifeless on screen. Still, there are no major problems here. It's just not meant to be a pretty, colorful film, and what we get with this Blu-ray release is likely a pretty close approximation of what director Jaume Collet-Serra meant for us to see.
House of Wax Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track employed by Warner Brothers on this release is adequate yet a little underwhelming. The track does feature good, tight bass throughout. The track really picks up when the action does. Once the first character is killed, the music gets loud, the volume cranks up, and the soundstage is filled with notes of dread and doom. It's a pretty good score and is one of the better things about the movie. The majority of the action takes place across the front soundstage. I didn't notice anything too special. Separation is OK, but not phenomenal. Dialogue sometimes sounded a bit harsh, but was clear and discernible more often than not. Surrounds are used sparingly, even in the action-packed final moments of the film. I was not overly impressed with this soundtrack, but it suffices.
House of Wax Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There aren't a lot of extras here. There is no commentary and nothing significant to speak of. There is a B-Roll and Bloopers Video Cast Commentary (480p, 26:30) that features some of the cast discussing the movie and outtakes as they watch from a sofa. This is perhaps the dreariest and dullest feature, ever. Hilton, Cuthbert, Murray, and Padalecki, the participants, come across as, frankly, four airheads. As dumb as I thought their characters were in the movie, these actors came across worse in real life. I'll be honest here. I shut this feature off after a few minutes. I couldn't stand it any longer.
Wax On (480p, 7:24) is a behind-the-scenes look at the design and making of the wax museum used in the film. House Built on Wax (480p, 10:11) features a look at the visual effects employed throughout the film. From Location: Joel Silver Reveals 'House of Wax' (480p, 1:11) is a chat with Joel Silver, co-founder of Dark Castle Entertainment, talking up the film. I guess this is supposed to be funny with Silver on the set of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, talking in the middle of a shootout and getting run over by a car. Thankfully it was short.
Rounding out the supplements are a gag reel (480p, 3:16), an alternate opening (480p, 1:38), and the obligatory theatrical trailer (480p, 2:25).
House of Wax Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
House of Wax struck me as a generally lousy horror movie. Even Nick, the one character I liked, could have been fleshed out a little more. Overall, performances were awful, the script generic and predictable, and the direction, at times, tried to be cute rather than effective resulting in some overly artistic and misplaced shots for a film of this type. I feel that if the film was tightened up in the editing room and the runtime trimmed by about 20 minutes, the movie could have been elevated from "bad" to "passable." Technically, this Blu-ray disc is fine, but it's not one that you'll leave near the player to use for demonstration purposes. The supplements were weak, even for a movie like this. This is the second time I have seen House of Wax and I remember liking it a little more the first time around (about 3 months ago). Therefore, I'd only recommend giving House of Wax a rent, and only if you've seen almost everything else at the store already.
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On October 19, Warner Home Video will release a horror double feature Blu-ray: Thir13en Ghosts / House of Wax - of which the former is new to high-definition in the US, whereas the latter was released separately in 2006. This two-disc pack was previously available ...
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