House of Wax is a 2005 slasher film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, in his feature directorial debut, and written by Chad Hayes and Carey W. Hayes. The film stars Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt in a dual role, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams, and Robert Ri'chard. It is a loose remake of the 1953 film of the same name, itself a remake of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum, based on the story "The Wax Works" by Charles S. Belden. The film soundtrack features music by Deftones, My Chemical Romance, and Interpol.
House of Wax premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released in United States theaters on May 6, 2005, by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film grossed $70.1 million worldwide and received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, who criticized its lack of originality, screenplay, and characters, but praised the performances and atmosphere.
On their way to a football game, Carly Jones, her troubled brother Nick, her boyfriend Wade Felton and their friends – Dalton Chapman, Paige Edwards and Blake Johnson – set up camp for the night in a wooded area. A stranger in a pickup truck arrives, then leaves after Nick smashes one of his headlights. The next day, Wade discovers his car's fan belt has been severed; a local man named Lester offers to drive Wade and Carly to the nearby town of Ambrose while the rest of the group head to the game.
In Ambrose, which is virtually a ghost town, Carly and Wade meet a man named Bo Sinclair who offers to sell them a fan belt and drive them back to their car after he finishes attending a funeral. While waiting, they visit "Trudy's House of Wax", a wax museum-like tourist trap which itself and everything in it is made out of wax and is the central feature of the town. They eventually follow Bo back to his house to get the fan belt; Carly waits in his truck while Wade goes inside to use the bathroom. Wade is attacked and knocked unconscious by Bo's twin brother, Vincent, who wears a wax mask to cover the facial disfigurement he has from where they were once conjoined. When Carly notices Bo's truck has a broken headlight and realizes he was the one who visited the campsite, she flees from the scene, chased by Bo who catches her and takes her down to the gas station cellar. Meanwhile, Vincent covers Wade's body in molten wax.
After realizing they will not arrive at the game in time, Paige and Blake return to the campsite while Nick and Dalton arrive in Ambrose to look for Carly and Wade. When Carly attempts to call for help, Bo cuts off her fingertip. She manages to get Nick's attention who fends off Bo and then frees Carly, while Dalton finds Wade as part of the House of Wax, restrained in his wax coating. Dalton tries to free Wade by peeling off the wax from his face, inadvertently removing his skin in the process. Vincent then ambushes Dalton and slashes off a section of Wade's face, causing him to die of shock, before chasing, cornering and finally decapitating Dalton.
While searching the town for help, the Joneses realize that wax figures that were created, both in the House of Wax and placed around Ambrose to make it appear populated, are actually the wax-coated corpses of its inhabitants and visitors lured there: Vincent had been attempting to continue the wax sculpting work of his and Bo's mother and the House of Wax's creator and namesake, Trudy Sinclair, after her death, but Bo began manipulating Vincent into making more realistic figures out of their victims. Back at the campsite, Vincent murders Blake and chases Paige into an abandoned sugar mill, where he does the same to her by throwing a metal pipe through her forehead. Vincent later encounters the Joneses in the House of Wax's basement, during which Nick unintentionally starts a massive fire in the workshop down there, causing a building-wide inferno. Intercepted by Bo upstairs, Nick battles him, only to be stabbed in the leg before he is saved by Carly, who beats Bo to death with a baseball bat. Furious over his brother's murder, Vincent chases Carly to the top floor where she tries to reason with him about Bo's manipulation but, with Nick's help, is then able to stab him in the back. The deceased Vincent falls through the floor and lands on top of Bo's corpse, while the Joneses escape as the House of Wax melts to the ground.
The next morning, local authorities, having been drawn to Ambrose by the fire's smoke, arrive and report about how the town had been abandoned for a decade since the sugar mill went out of business. As the Joneses are driven away in an ambulance, one of the chief officers is told that the Sinclair family did not have just two sons, but three. The ambulance containing the Joneses passes by Lester, who is implied to be the third son and waves the siblings goodbye while smiling.
House of Wax was filmed at Warner Bros. Movie World, Australia. The Town set was constructed a few miles down the road, off Hollindale Road, in the Guanaba area.
In January 2006, Village Roadshow Studios owners Village Theme Park Management and Warner Brothers Movie World Australia announced they were suing special effects expert David Fletcher and Wax Productions because of a fire on the set during production.
The $7 million lawsuit alleges that Mr. Fletcher and Wax Productions were grossly negligent over the fire, which destroyed part of the Gold Coast's Warner Bros. Movie World studios. The alleged grounds of negligence included not having firefighters on stand-by and using timber props near a naked flame. The set where the fire broke out was demolished and is now a field kept for Movie World for future projects.
Opening in 3,111 theaters, the film grossed $12 million in its opening weekend. House of Wax earned $70 million worldwide, $32 million of which came from North American receipts. House of Wax also earned $42 million in VHS/DVD rentals. A marketing campaign was launched to promote the film entitled "See Paris Die", to capitalize on the appearance of Paris Hilton in the film, as her casting had been met with disapproval by some horror fans. The campaign promised that viewers would "See Paris Die" in the film in a gruesome fashion and Hilton created shirts featuring the slogan.
On July 13, 2021 a collector's edition Blu-Ray of House of Wax was released (under license from Warner Bros.) by Scream Factory in the US & Canada.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 27% based on 161 reviews and the average rating is 4.29/10. The site's consensus reads, "Bearing little resemblance to the 1953 original, House of Wax is a formulaic but better-than-average teen slasher flick." On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 41 out of 100 based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars and wrote, "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." He said of Hilton's performance that "she is no better or worse than the typical Dead Post-Teenager and does exactly what she is required to do in a movie like this, with all the skill—admittedly finite—that is required." Film critic Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post, gave the film four out of five stars, calling it a "guilty pleasure" and wrote that it gives horror fans exactly what they want. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle rated it 4/5 stars and wrote, "After a month, no one will talk about this movie again. Still, with a picture like this, there is really only one question: Is it fun? Yes. Lots. Definitely." Bruce Westbrook of the Houston Chronicle called it boring and poorly-acted, though he complimented Cuthbert and Murray. A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, "The set design is fairly elaborate by the standards of the genre, and the victims don't die in precisely the order you might expect, but everything else goes pretty much according to formula".
House of Wax: Music from the Motion Picture is the soundtrack for House of Wax, consisting of commercially recorded songs. A second album was released containing the film score composed by John Ottman, and was simply titled House of Wax.
One song from the film does not appear on the soundtrack: "Roland" by Interpol appears in the scene at the beginning of the film when the group decides to camp overnight. The song that plays during the end credits is "Helena" by My Chemical Romance.
According to Carey Hayes, after House of Wax's release there had been discussions of developing a prequel, but these plans did not materialize due to the film's lack of success at the box office.
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