A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie contains repeated gross-out horror images, including skin ripping off faces; bodies subjected to stabbing, chopping, and piercing; girls screaming and weeping; shotguns blasting; deer carcasses rotting; bugs crawling; even a finger being cut off with wire cutters. The killers keep fetuses in jars, blame their mother, and target boys and girls equally, though Paris Hilton is the only victim to strip to her red bra and panties and give her boyfriend (off-screen, but plainly indicated) oral sex. The killer superglues one girl's mouth shut, and she cuts it open so it bleeds and she can summon help; characters drink, smoke, and use harsh language.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
HOUSE OF WAX begins with a camping trip for friends Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) and Paige (Paris Hilton), their boyfriends, gentle Wade (Jared Padalecki) and lusty Blake (Robert Ri'chard), Carly's twin brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray), and Dalton (Jon Abrahams). Around the campfire, they drink, smoke cigarettes, act bored, and make out. The next morning, Carly falls into a pit of bloody, rotted fleshy muck, where a character named only "Roadkill" (Damon Herriman) tosses decayed carcasses. When Wade's Mustang mysteriously breaks down, Wade and Carly accept a ride in Roadkill's smelly pickup truck. They wind up in the small, forgotten town of Ambrose and a literal "House of Wax" (inside are wax figures, wax walls, wax furniture, wax floors), where the victims and eventual survivors are repeatedly frightened, caught in the dark, tied up, cut, and tortured.
Is it any good?
This is a remake of the Vincent price film in name and gimmick only; in all other respects it's a brutal slasher film, in which pretty young people are horribly killed one by one. By the time they finally reach Ambrose, the film has already taken too long -- the first half's pacing is deliberate, as if the premise needs careful exposition, which it does not.
The climax is predictably bloody, as well as fiery (to underline the film's inconsistent religious iconography). Good twins Nick and Carly triumph over bad twins Bo and Vincent (both played by Van Holt, one with scarred, waxed over face, indication of his general sickness). Most alarming, the movie leaves open the possibility of a sequel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters' extreme dimwittedness; and how, even for generic plotting, their willingness to explore sinister places and walk headlong into obvious trouble is remarkable. Initially at odds, Carly and her twin brother Nick learn to get along as their friends are killed off; families might discuss their display of sibling bonding, except that they are paralleled by the killer twins, once conjoined, now just thoughtlessly murderous. Families can also talk about the stereotypical representation of the villains as underclass and vaguely rural.
- In theaters: May 6, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: October 25, 2005
- Cast: Chad Michael Murray, Elisha Cuthbert, Paris Hilton
- Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: horror violence, some sexual content and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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