‘Prey. Slay. Display.’
House of Wax is a 2005 American-Australian horror film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows; Orphan) from a screenplay by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes (The Turning; The Conjuring; The Dark Side of the Moon; et al), based on a story by Charles Belden.
The movie stars Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams and Robert Ri’chard.
Carly Jones, her twin brother Nick, her boyfriend Wade, her best friend Paige, Paige’s boyfriend Blake and Nick’s friend Dalton are on their way to a football game in Louisiana. When night falls, the group sets up camp. A stranger in a pickup truck visits their campsite, shines his lights and refuses to leave until Nick smashes one of his headlights.
The next morning, Wade discovers that his car’s fan belt is broken. Carly and Paige wander into the woods, where Carly tumbles down a hill and falls into a pit filled with rotting animal carcasses. After rescuing her, the group meets a strange man named Lester, who offers to drive Carly and Wade to the nearby town of Ambrose to get a new fan belt. The two arrive at Ambrose, which is virtually a ghost town…
“House of Wax takes forever to get going, which wouldn’t pose a problem if some big payoff loomed in the end. But the film doesn’t so much let tension build as stall inevitable disappointment. Like too many horror movies these days, House of Wax goes for scares, but settles for being gory and deeply unpleasant.” Nathan Rabin, AV Film
“At times it can appear that House of Wax is more style over substance (and I’m looking at you, finale) but underneath the glossy surface is a gloriously nasty slasher which delivers the goods. The slasher material feels fresh, the wax elements are played to perfection and the cast do decent jobs of making it all seem believable. Highly underrated…” Andrew Smith, Popcorn Pictures
“105 minutes may seem like a lengthy slog for such a simple stalk and slash picture but precious few of them are wasteful and the last thirty are more than worthy of the price of admission alone. Give House of Wax an opportunity when you desire an old school horror fable with a glossy sheen as, given the chance, it may well melt away your defenses like it did mine.” Rivers of Grue
“House of Wax is not a good movie, but it is an efficient one and will deliver most of what anyone attending House of Wax could reasonably expect… assuming it would be unreasonable to expect very much.” Roger Ebert
“It takes its time and it actually gets better as it goes along. Yes, it’s sensationalist, silly entertainment meant for a young audience, but everyone knows that going in. And yes, its dialogue is stilted, its characters un-delineated and their motivations ridiculous.” Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
” …isn’t bad as these things go, although these things go nowhere a healthy individual should want to. Having never claimed to be a healthy individual, I found it tolerable. It’s nowhere near as punishing as Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses, but it’s increasingly tense and resourceful and, in the end, it gets the sick job done.” David Edelstein, Slate
” …a fun slasher romp with some neat ideas and grisly murders. Paris does okay with her “slutty blonde victim” part and the waxy finale is something we’re unlikely to see anywhere else. Most definitely not for discriminating horror fans, but if you’re game for some trashy entertainment and well-executed executions, then you could do a lot worse.” Vegan Voorhees
“I like this movie a little bit because they still kill the old way. In recent years, in search of big bucks, a number of horror movies have been produced as hard but nevertheless permissible PG-13s, to bring in a younger cash customer. When you see that, you know there’s a certain line the movie won’t cross; it lessens the upfront apprehension, which after all is the point of the horror movie, no?” Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
Cast and characters:
- Elisha Cuthbert as Carly Jones
- Chad Michael Murray as Nick Jones
- Brian Van Holt as Bo Sinclair / Vincent Sinclair
- Paris Hilton as Paige Edwards
- Jared Padalecki as Wade Felton
- Jon Abrahams as Dalton Chapman
- Robert Ri’chard as Blake Johnson
- Damon Herriman as Lester Sinclair
- Andy Anderson as Sheriff
- Dragicia Debert as Trudy Sinclair
- Murray Smith as Dr. Victor Sinclair
- Emma Lung as Jennifer [uncredited]
The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released in US theaters on May 6, 2005.
With a reported budget of $40 million, House of Wax earned $70 million at box offices worldwide, $32 million of which came from North American receipts. House of Wax also earned $42 million in VHS/DVD rentals.