It flatters to deceive

The House of Wax lacks credibility and the viewer is bound to feel shortchanged, reports
Ervell E. Menezes

Brian Van Holt & Elisha Cuthbert in a scene from House of Wax
Brian Van Holt & Elisha Cuthbert in a scene from House of Wax 

SOME classics should never be remade, like for example Psycho (they remade it in daylight, can you believe it ?), Gone With the Wind (they havenít done it yet, thankfully) and House of Wax but can Hollywood resist such temptations. The 1953 classic House of Wax not only was in 3-D (one had to use red and green glasses to see it) but marked the beginning of actor Vincent Priceís horror career. Before that he was only a supporting actor. The new House of Wax flatters only to deceive and tries to sustain horror for far too long with the result the denouement falls flat.

When Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and his girl-friend Paige (Paris Hilton) and their campus gang decide to camp out on the way to a football game it is the beginning of a nightmare, a bizarre, blood-curdling adventure. A confrontation with a mysterious trucker sets the ball rolling. Carly tires to keep the peace between her boy-friend Wade (Jared Padalecki) and her hot-headed brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray). The next morning they discover that one of their cars has been tampered with and that they need a fan-belt.

So they drive to the nearby town of Ambrose whose main attraction is Trudyís House of Wax. Unlike Madame Tussaudís these figures are eerily real. Could they really have live human elements in them? To answer that would be`A0 to reveal too much. Then, at an Ambrose funeral they run into Vincent (Brian van Holt), a mysterious Norman Bates-like character. The name is taken from Vincent Price, the hero of the original film and there is a good deal of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, another old`A0 horror film which senior film buffs will be happy to see as they will get another look at Bette Davis as an assortment of wax figures too watch the movie.

The screenplay by Chad and Carey Hayes is too long-drawn out and director Jaume Collett-Sera has a tough time sustaining the horror and suspense. Like so many of those on-the-road horror movies, the Friday the 13th variety House of Wax begins promisingly but it concentrates on quantity rather than quality and that is its biggest shortcoming. The horror is almost staccato but unlike The Exorcist there is little credibility. And this too gets fast eroded as the shock treatment involves eliminating some characters. There is some mumbo-jumbo about the separation of Siamese twins but it doesnít hold much water. The sets of the House of Wax museum are well made but the ongoing action scarcely does justice to them. The film ends only when the director runs out of breath/ideas or may be even out of raw stock.

The early horror scenes are good but they deteriorate in the second half, some of them being unintentionally funny. Elisha Cuthbert, however, does as good a job as expected in the circumstances and is ably supported by Chad Michael Murray. Brian van Holt as the villain is rather patchy.

For those looking for eerie, shock treatment without much credibility this House of Wax will do, but never, repeat never, mention it in the same breath as the Vincent Price classic.