Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Month of Terror: House of Wax (2005)

Well, I knew it would come to this eventually...reviewing the movie that everyone knows not for its ridiculous plot and contrived story, but for the fact that Paris Hilton had a supporting role in it. Yes, House of Wax! And you'll be surprised to know, if you aren't familiar with this ridiculous carnivalesque sideshow of fecal garbage, that the fact that Paris Hilton is in this movie is the least silly thing about it. Yes, the least silly thing, indeed. Intrigued?

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Paris Hilton!

The film starts off in the best way possible, with a flashback! We see a woman making wax sculptures, and then a guy dragging his kicking and screaming son into the room, despite the latter’s attempts at fighting back with everything he has. You know it’s good to see such good taste even in little kids – even at age 3 he knew he didn’t want to ruin his career by being in this movie! Maybe he’ll go somewhere, someday.

So on Bland White People Horror Movie News, we flash to the present day, where a bunch of ignorant jackasses are undergoing the epic journey of going to a football game! Enthralling! They’re hanging out at a gas station and we learn that Elisha Cuthbert’s character Carly has a boyfriend, Wade (Jared Padalecki) who really doesn’t like her brother Nick, played by Chad Michael Murray. We also learn that Paris Hilton is Paige, a girl who doesn’t want to tell her boyfriend Blake that she’s pregnant. Tune in for more Bland White People Horror Movie News in…well, probably a few seconds.

"By golly, this is the FIRST time I've ever been caught on tape doing anything!"

Ha-ha! She looked like she was getting a blowjob in the car but really she was just getting her keys...right…sure...exactly.

Aaaaand after that quick break, we’re back to Bland White People Horror Movie News! So they camp out and whine and moan about stuff some more, and Nick and Carly fight some more, to which we learn that he was arrested for stealing a car and blames her for not covering for him…so glad this guy is one of our heroes, right? Carly talks to Paris Hilton (yes, I know she has a character name, but I’m just going to call her that anyway) some more about the pregnancy thing. By God this is bland! The uninspiring-ness is just off the charts with this! Bland White People Horror Movie News is going to be the most popular news station ever at this rate!

Oh, and for some reason the camera switches to a home-video style camcorder…why? There’s really no reason for this, aside from a throwaway gore moment way later on in the film. Movie, having a point isn’t that hard. Why do you try to make it look that way?

So not to break from the cuh-raaaazeee fun we’ve been having, but the plot crashes in to ruin it when a big truck drives up and sits there staring at them for pretty much no reason. Nick throws a rock at it, and…it drives away. Hmmm. Then they go to bed until Carly wakes up and thinks there’s something out there, only to find out that it was just her boyfriend Wade doing a stupid jump scare to pad out the movie. Aren’t you glad the 2-hour, yes, 2-hour, runtime included important and vital scenes like this?

"Didja like that? How I snuck up on you from behind and scared you in the middle of the night like a common creeper? I'm just preparing you for defending yourself. Yeah that's it."

Then the next morning they wake up and Carly and Paris Hilton smell something awful right on the other side of some trees, which turns out to be a giant landfill full of dead animals. Yeah, pretty sure they’d be able to smell that from their campsite, movie. What, do the trees just block out the smell entirely? And then Carly succumbs to the hallowed ‘Lake Placid 2’ method of standing up, and falls right down the hill and into a pile of deer droppings. I haven’t been this endeared by a battle of man VS nature since Jack London’s ”To Build a Fire.” Glorious.

So yeah, then we get this guy, who picks up a plastic hand in the dead animal remains and says “Need a hand?” I’m so glad we have writers on the same level of comedic talent as Mel Brooks and the Coen brothers…oh wait, today ISN’T opposite day.

"I'm shooting for a Comedy Central spot next time!"

He takes them to fix Wade’s car or something, only they get freaked out and walk the rest of the way, offending him. Again, such endearing characters! I like them as much as I’ve ever liked any characters in a slasher movie…which is to say, about as much as being forced to eat horse manure. And if you think you’ve seen this kind of character, this seedy country bumpkin crazy character, in every single Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie before, and if you think that means this movie has no originality or shame, well shut up, your opinion isn’t worth anything here!

So then they decide to go explore the city’s wax museum, and for some reason Wade is really excited by this…I guess he’d be excited about anything at this rate. Hell, he’d probably react with just as much enthusiasm if you told him you were taking him to a museum of fly excrement. They walk around and talk about dumb stuff to pad out the movie some more. They run into a guy named Bo, who I’m sure doesn’t raise ANY SUSPICION by being the only normal, living person seen in this town – oh no, nothing strange about that at all…but of course the characters buy it, being raging morons.

While going to the bathroom before supposedly leaving, Wade gets killed and taken to an underground wax factory to be turned into a human wax sculpture! Of course! The prime motive for ANY serial killer! I mean, wow; that’s pretty frigging creative, don’t you think? Most other movies just have the killers torturing and raping their victims, but not these guys; oh no. They go full out and have all this complex machinery around to turn their victims into wax sculptures and everything. I mean, Christ, that’s really specific stuff! It should probably be put on one of those abstract fetish websites or something. Tell me you’ve found a weirder premise for a slasher movie and I’ll sell you my dog.

...I think the pictures speak for themselves. The SAW movies look positively bereft for ideas in comparison.

Somebody give these guys a gold star for creativity. I mean, they already found a way to mummify people perfectly in wax just by spraying it on them enough, and they go even further by wiring them up to gears to make them move, having them sit in a movie theater playing an old movie that nobody watches anymore, and all kinds of other nonsense. Hell. The only thing they don’t do is kidnap women in parking garages in extremely contrived schemes that…OK, I’m getting over it.

But yeah, that’s the big plot behind this – a crazy family kidnaps unsuspecting roadside victims and does gory stuff to them. If you think that sounds like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, well, you’d be right. It’s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre except…well, no; there is no difference. This is about as blatant a ripoff as you can get. I’m surprised they didn’t just rip off the logo, too.

And look at our killer!

Does he look familiar? Hmmmm? That’s right – Michael Myers. It’s ripping off the plot for Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the image of the killer from Halloween. Christ. This is like watching a third grader’s bad fanfiction. Here’s a hint for you: just taking random stuff from totally unrelated franchises, and adding an infamously slutty actress that nobody will ever take seriously, isn’t exactly the path to a great horror flick. You might as well have just thrown in a bad comedian while you were at it. I mean, you had every other damn cliché in the book.

So meanwhile in the actual film, Bo ties up Carly in the basement of his gas station and actually goes so far as to glue her lips shut. Why he didn’t just use the tape…ooooh, shock value, shock value! That’s about all you need. But meanwhile her brother and his friend find the town and split up, cause that’s the smartest thing to do in a horror movie, and the friend gets killed almost immediately. Surprise, surprise; the random character who did nothing else in the entire movie got killed off…can you feel my excitement emanating through the screen?

The brother has a little more luck though, as he finds Carly! But not before Bo cuts her finger off with a small tool. No, sorry; not buying that one. It wouldn’t just snap off like you’re cutting a twig in half. It would also be very noticeable to the guy standing right behind you, who you don’t want to find your captive. But he does find her, and they escape! Bo chases them around for a while, but they shoot him with a few arrows, so it’s all good.

Meanwhile, the other brother, the Michael Myers-mask-wearing killer, somehow finds the other two characters that never even made it to the town. Why? Because we need more body count, and with Paris Hilton being a part of it, you know it’s gonna be good. All I have to say about this part is, if Paris Hilton can almost outrun and put up a better fight than you…you need to get on the Stairmaster more than once a millennium.

You know, I could make so many jokes. But I bet they've all already been done anyway...

Then inside the house, Carly and Nick find some old photos of the two brothers as kids, because that’s the only way the writers could think of to pad out the movie some more. Then they get chased around some more and start a fire in the house, and since the house is made out of all wax, it starts to melt into…one of the most original and unique ending scenes I’ve seen in a horror movie lately.

I can’t say I like it – it looks something like Paris Hilton’s plastic surgery factory caught on fire – but it certainly is interesting. It goes on a little too long, though. I mean, there’s really only so much you can do with shots of a whole house of wax melting in flames…it’s a pretty specific phenomenon. So they make it out and all, only for the police to find out that the creepy guy from the beginning of the movie was also a brother of the two wax-idiots…which doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Where was he the whole rest of the movie? Is he just the odd man out that neither of the other two like or include in their plans? Why didn’t he help them at all?

Yeah, this sucks. The characters are cardboard cutouts that somehow manage to be extra annoying, the plot is stupidly specific and there’s just no logic to any of it. Some of the visuals were creative and every once in a while I got a sense of real fear, but it was just so bogged down in stupidity and lameness that I couldn’t forgive it. So with that, I banish House of Wax to the incinerator!