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by Willie Waffle

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House of Wax

I have been waiting for this movie because I wanted to see Paris Hilton die early and painfully. Nothing else really mattered. At least, they got half of it right.

House of Wax stars Elisha Cuthbert as Carly Jones - a successful college student about to embark on an internship with a New York-based magazine. She and her friends have joined up to travel to Baton Rouge for one last big football game, but decide to camp out in the woods instead of driving all night. The next morning, Carly's boyfriend, Wade (Jared Padelecki), discovers his car's fan belt is broken, so he and Carly head into town, while the rest of the gang tries to get to the football game.

What is waiting for Wade and Carly once they arrive in the seemingly abandoned town?

House of Wax is a stupid and gross movie, one that gets more entertaining as the film progresses and becomes more outrageous, but it's not a great movie. Based on all of the stabbings, body parts being ripped off, and overall quantity of blood, director Jaume Serra knows how to turn our stomachs. If you want to see yucky, you'll get yucky. However, the story takes too long to develop.

The reason why this town is so deserted and why our group of six travelers are in danger isn't very important to Serra and writers Chad and Carey Hayes. Serra seems to be obsessed with the way he kills the various characters, which is important in a horror movie like this, but he doesn't build the tension and drama presented by the Hayes. We are given allusions to a family that experienced great difficulty, two brothers who struggled through a major disaster only to have it impact both of them in an extreme manner, and Serra shows us enough creepy stuff happening around town to pique our curiosity, but House of Wax is not a movie that will be remembered for its plot, characters or acting. None of the elements I described above are developed or given any twists that would be stimulating or interesting, and don't gel together until it's very late in the movie and we have given up caring about them. More often than not, the details are in the way of Serra having a character get his face ripped off.

As far as the acting, I was amazed to find Hilton's character is almost as vacuous and oblivious as she is in real life. While not in the movie very much (and you'll see why), we saw better from Paris in that other movie most of us have seen. However, Serra has some fun playing off that "accidental" porn tape by putting Hilton's character, Paige, in a few scenes where she is videotaped while making out with her boyfriend, and subjecting the rest of us to the most unintentionally unsexy strip tease I have ever seen. While dancing around in some sexy underwear for her boyfriend, Blake (Robert Ri'chard), Hilton shows the same style of woodenness we see in the rest of her acting in House of Wax. Thankfully, Paris still has the trust fund to fall back on.

The rest of the cast does about what you would expect in a horror film with a weak script. Cuthbert screams in the right places, and looks good in her tank top as she runs around town, while the guys act hurt enough when they are stabbed, hacked and otherwise mutilated. To keep things fair, Chad Michael Murray shows off his buff bod for the ladies in the crowd, but his character's background, presented to us in great detail, doesn't matter as much as his abs.

Serra gets ½ Waffle for killing Paris in a painful manner (you have to wait a while for the big scene, however, everyone cheered it when I saw the movie), but House of Wax only gets another Waffle for finding a sense of humor and camp later in the film combined with some gross out scenes that are interesting and shocking. I wish Serra didn't have such a visually dark look in the film, which makes it hard to follow some of the action, and the special effects are strictly B-level.

1 ½ Waffles (Out Of 4)

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