House of Wax (2005)

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Released 7-Dec-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-B-Roll And Bloopers With Video Cast Commentary
Featurette-Wax On
Featurette-House Built On Wax
Outtakes
Alternative Version-Alternate Open: Jennifer Killed
Featurette-From Location: Joel Silver Reveals House Of Wax
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 108:04 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jaume Collet-Serra
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Elisha Cuthbert
Chad Michael Murray
Brian Van Holt
Paris Hilton
Jared Padalecki
Jon Abrahams
Robert Ri'chard
Dragicia Debert
Thomas Adamson
Murray Smith
Sam Harkess
Damon Herriman
Andy Anderson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Liam Howlett
Marilyn Manson
John Ottman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    House of Wax is not a remake of the 1953 Vincent Price classic, but the name has been conveniently borrowed by Joel Silver and Robert Zemekis' Dark Castle Entertainment for this fairly standard slasher flick.

    The movie begins with a surprising and somewhat disturbing scene from the early seventies that opens the film in a relatively non-traditional way for this genre. These kind of films rarely try to show why the bad guy is so deranged, but House of Wax does a fairly decent job of trying to explain why the killer is disturbed.

    The story follows six friends in their early twenties who are on a road trip to see a college football game. Attempts are made to show the human side (boyfriend problems, criminal convictions, late period & pregnancy worries, and so forth) of the characters in the hope that we make some kind of emotional connection to them. Very early in the film comes the first cliché; a short cut to get them to Baton Rouge faster. No sooner do they take the shortcut than they find that the road is closed and there is a detour (cliché #2.)  Then they start to get tired, pull over and set up camp... but instead of sleeping they play football, make out and get drunk. I don't want to spoil it for you but the friends continue to fall deeper and deeper into the clutches of the killer and find themselves in a deserted town where the House of Wax plays a central role in some key plot developments.

    The most obvious cliché that is repeated through the film is the sheer stupidity of the six friends. They simply make the opposite decision to that which any rational person would make; I can give you plenty of examples but it would give away a lot of the plot. Many of these stupid decisions are laugh-out-loud funny. I understand that the nature of this kind of film is that these people are somehow placed in a dangerous and life-threatening situation, but it's a sign of weakness in the script when ultimately stupidity is the downfall of most of the key players. The film had a lot of potential but the script was painful at times.

    Another complaint was that it took ages for anything to happen. I think the first kill was about 45 minutes into the film. Instead of the anticipation building (as I am sure was the intent), I only felt frustrated and a little bored. That said, once it all started happening the film did a lot to redeem itself. There were a few gruesome moments, like a wax embalming (whilst still alive) and a chopped off finger amongst others. Without spoiling too much, I have to say I was impressed and surprised at how much I enjoyed the climactic showdown at the House of Wax. Whilst completely over the top, it was a lot of fun.

    With a few exceptions, the acting was pretty weak, especially Paris Hilton. This marks her feature film acting debut unless you count A Night in Paris from a few years ago. The pouting, glazed-over look that she always has can only take her so far, because she cannot act at all. The film made a few cheap attempts at humour at her expense, but most fell flat. The bright light in the cast was Elisha Cuthbert - she has a future as a leading lady in Hollywood but I would be surprised if we saw anyone else from the cast go onto bigger and better roles.

    House of Wax will go down in history as a poor cousin to its older namesake, but it is worth checking out for a night of scary fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This PAL disc is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This film is extremely dark, with probably 80% of the film taking place at night. Even the daylight shots are unnaturally dark, with a lot of filters used. Overall the transfer looks pretty good and for a movie that is set in the dark and has a lot of shadows, it's pretty impressive.

    Colours are quite good, especially considering how dark the film is. Skin tones look great and the wax comes off looking very nice on screen.

    Blacks levels were good and shadows for the most part came out OK. At times I though that some shadowy scenes were reddish tinged, but I believe that was the effect the director was going for with filters. The same could be said for a few murky scenes where it was hard to tell what was going on, but again I think that's what the director was going for.

    There was a bit of grain in a few darker scenes but nothing to complain about.

    Overall, this is a pretty good transfer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is one audio track on the disc, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is encoded at the lower bit-rate of 384Kb/s.

    The audio track for this film was relatively subdued for the genre. There were no stand-out impressive moments, but technically there was nothing wrong it it.

    Dialogue came through sounding clear, although sometimes it was on the soft side. There were no sync issues.

    The surrounds didn't get as much of a workout as you would think, but when they were used they added to the enjoyment (and scare factor) of the film. The subwoofer got a reasonable work-out too.

    The soundtrack by John Ottman sounded fantastic and added to the mood of the film.

    Overall, a surprisingly subdued track, but it was used effectively to add atmosphere and tension to the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Featurette: B-Roll and Bloopers Video Cast commentary

    Instead of a real commentary, we get a split screen with the action from the set in the bottom half and the top half of the screen occupied with Cuthbert, Hilton and two male co-stars talking about what they are seeing on the bottom screen. It is a novel idea to see the cast like this, but it seems like they want to be watching it even less than I do. It is still mildly entertaining to see Hilton appear as dumb as I thought she would.

Featurette: Wax On

    An interesting, but short show on the design of the set. The whole town was built from scratch for the film. The effort put in was quite impressive, mainly down to some hard-working Aussies. I had actually forgotten that it was filmed in Queensland until I was about halfway through watching the movie.

Featurette: House Built on Wax

    About the visual FX of the film. Interesting but pretty standard fare.

Outtakes

    Worth a look but nothing to come back for.

Alternative Opening

    This is more the traditional opening with a victim straight away. I'm glad they didn't use it.

Featurette: From Location Joel Silver Reveals House of Wax

    A very short but amusing piece from the famous producer. Worth a look to see him pay the ultimate price (via some funny visual FX)... perhaps it's payback for the punishment he inflicted with Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions?

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version has Spanish and French language tracks, and a trailer on startup for Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly.

    The R4 has a trailer on startup for Warner Brothers Movie World.

    Unless you want the Spanish or French track, stick with the R4 version.

Summary

    It's not a classic, but it will keep you entertained for an evening. A definite plus is Elisha Cuthbert. A definite minus, Paris Hilton.

    The video transfer is pretty solid, with nothing to complain about.

    The audio is subdued, but in this case less is more.

    The extras are pretty standard fare, but this movie doesn't warrant a special edition.

    Overall, worth your time for a fun, waxy scare.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Smith (boku no bio)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV4300, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPioneer
SpeakersDB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub

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Comments (Add)
No time indicated for extra features! - Concern Citizen REPLY POSTED
Not even a poor cousin... - BruceM (read my bio)