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Thrills and chills ooze all over you in House of Wax, from Dark Castle Entertainment and legendary horror producers Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis (Gothika, House on Haunted Hill).
When their car breaks down on a road trip, six college friends are sidetracked into an eerie backwoods town. Curiosity gets the better of them when they are intrigued by its macabre House of Wax. They soon find out that the town is not what it seems and they must find their way out before they fall victim to its ghoulishly inventive killers.
MTV Award, Paris Hilton, Best Frightened Performance
I acknowledge that for the average horror film to work, it's necessary for the lead characters to do some illogical - and possible even idiotic - things. But, in a movie like this, there comes a point when the viewer goes beyond questioning the IQ of the protagonists and actively rooting for them to die so that they can't procreate and pass their genes to future offspring. Some stupidity on the part of the characters is fun - we can smirk at the director's use of familiar cliches. But when it's overdone, and when advancing the plot relies upon it, our smiles turn first into grimaces then into frowns. A horror movie can get away with a lot, but once it crosses a certain line, it is insulting to viewers. House of Wax crosses that line. In a way, that's too bad, because it has some of the other requisite element to make it an enjoyably bloody horror experience.
The Dead Teenager Movie has grown up. The characters in "House of Wax" are in their 20s and yet still repeat the fatal errors of all the "Friday the 13th" kids who checked into Camp Crystal Lake and didn't check out...In "House of Wax," two carloads of college students leave Gainesville for a big football game in Baton Rouge, and take an ominous detour along the way, leading them into what looks like the Texas Chainsaw Theme Park. "This town is not even on the GPS!" says one of the future Dead Post-Teenagers...Where the movie excels is in its special effects and set design. Graham "Grace" Walker masterminds a spectacular closing sequence in which the House of Wax literally melts down, and characters sink into stairs, fall through floors and claw through walls. There is also an eerie sequence in which a living victim is sprayed with hot wax and ends up with a finish you'd have to pay an extra four bucks for at the car wash.
DVD, Widescreen, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1, Dolby Digital (5.1), English, French, Spanish, Subtitled, No Longer Produced
Benjamin Strong, The Village Voice
Discomfortingly gratuitous even by slasher standards.