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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

House of Wax (2005) - A Lukewarm Dose of Thrills

Rating: ★★1/2☆☆ (2.5/5 stars)

Released 04-26-2005

Watched 09-24-2023

Reviewed 10-23-2023

Rented from iTunes

"Ma would be proud, yeah, she'd be real proud. She always said your talent would make up for what God took away from you."

It seems that 2005’s “House of Wax” had more to offer in its marketing campaign, with the inclusion of socialite Paris Hilton, than in its narrative essence. While branded as a horror thriller, the movie tiptoes more on the cliched line of horror tropes rather than delivering the chills it promises. Nevertheless, it was surprising to note that Paris Hilton’s performance was somewhat better than we anticipated, albeit the low expectations set the bar easily surpassable.

The plot, a derivative of a group of youngsters finding themselves in eerie circumstances, is hardly original. The dusty and abandoned town setting is atmospheric, but soon, the dread dissolves into predictability as our protagonists stumble upon the sinister wax museum. The wax figurines, uncanny in their realism, hint at the morbid reality that unfolds predictably as the night stretches. Unfortunately, the dire straits the group finds themselves in doesn't resonate with the audience due to lackluster character development and forced dialogues.

On a positive note, the film does showcase some aptitude in the makeup and special effects department. The wax sculptures and the grotesque reveal of the antagonist’s lair send a shiver down the spine, albeit momentarily. The cinematography, too, had its moments with well-framed shots amplifying the eeriness of the deserted town.

Paris Hilton, whose acting endeavor was much maligned pre-release, managed to turn in a more palatable performance than anticipated. The low bar of expectations seemed to work in her favor, making her screen presence less cringe-worthy than feared. Her efforts did bring in a fresh breather amidst the otherwise monotonous scream-and-run sequences.

The suspense, however, was executed with the finesse of a sledgehammer, making the plot twists foreseeable. The supporting cast put in a fair shift but couldn’t rise above the mediocre script that bound them to caricatured roles.

In a nutshell, “House of Wax” delivered a lukewarm concoction of horror clichés with a slight uplift from Paris Hilton’s unexpected performance. It’s a movie that might entertain the less discerning viewer, but it leaves much to be desired for the avid horror aficionado. The superficial scares and predictable plot render it a middling affair, worthy of its 2.5-star rating.

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