'House of Wax': Not Hot

By Desson Thomson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 6, 2005

IF YOU are wondering about "House of Wax," I daresay you are also wondering about Paris Hilton, for whom this horror movie marks her biggest movie role thus far. (You just looked over your shoulder, didn't you? Afraid someone would catch you reading about Paris.)

Let me say this: Director Jaume Serra and screenwriters Chad and Carey W. Hayes have something very special in store for the Hiltster, a final punch line that somehow fits in with her previous escapades. But her character gets treated no worse than most of the others in this bloody waxfest.

In this modern spin on the classic 1953 film that starred Vincent Price, Hilton plays Paige Edwards, who's driving into the deep south to see a college football game with her boyfriend, Blake (Robert Ri'chard), and friends, including Carly Jones (Elisha Cuthbert); Carly's boyfriend, Wade (Jared Padalecki); and Carly's delinquent brother, Nick (Chad Michael Murray).

Like most horror movie characters, they do their best to place themselves in the jaws of danger. They drive into the darkest, most rural corner of Louisiana they can find, where (at least in this movie) the People With Bad Teeth roam. After the fan belt in his car mysteriously gives out, Wade tells everyone else to head to the game while he and Carly try to find a gas station. They hitch a ride with a gummy local who looks as though he's a stand-in for Crispin Glover.

They find themselves in Ambrose, a sleepy, forgotten, one-stoplight town that's not even on the map anymore. Its biggest attraction is the wax museum that sits high above everything. Incidentally, to get to this point is already one long, tedious hour. You'll be rooting for these people to get slaughtered out of sheer boredom. As if to make up for that, the filmmakers oblige you with an escalation of twisted killing, as the owner of that wax house emerges. And look for little sadistic touches here and there, especially one involving heavy-duty scissors and a human finger. Yeooow .

One thing's for sure, there is no safety filter protecting the characters, or you, from surprise brutality. So when Paige performs a little peekaboo dance in red underwear for her boyfriend, well, there's really only one thing to say: Nice knowin' ya, Paris.

HOUSE OF WAX (R, 105 minutes) -- Contains graphic violence and sexual situations. Area theaters.

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