Wicked Wednesday: House of Wax (2005)

The 2000s horror remakes have really bad reputations for many. Following the 90s slasher boom, which saw the creation of franchises like Scream and genre cornerstones like I Know What You Did Last Summer, it was almost like the creativity dried up. And suddenly, if it wasn’t Saw or Hostel it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), My Bloody Valentine (2009), Sorority Row (2009) – and really, the list does go on.

So to be honest, I have kept myself away from these – even though they were released at a time I was just beginning to explore the genre for myself. The way the most people talk about these remakes led me to believe that these were just dumper fires. But when I spotted the House of Wax rental on sale for £1.99, I thought it was time to dive in.

Carly and her friends are going on a road trip to a football game with her brother, who was recently released on bail. Though, as this is a horror movie, the group decide to take a shortcut. Of course a detour takes them the long way around, and they soon decide to stop in a field for the night.

They group start to party into the late hours. But their festivities are interrupted by a pick-up truck, which arrives just to sit there. Carly’s brother, Nick, throws a bottle at the headlight, and the truck leaves.

The next morning, Carly’s boyfriend, Wade, discovers that the belt on his car is spent. Meanwhile, his girlfriend and her friend Paige explore the bad smell in the woods. Carly tumbles down a steep hill and lands in roadkill carcasses. As she’s rescued, a man arrives in a pick-up truck – one that has both working headlights.

Carly and Wade agree to go with the strange man to the nearby town of Ambrose to get a new belt. The rest of the gang decide to go ahead with their plans of going to the football game.

The young couple are soon too creeped out by the man in the truck that they decide to go ahead on foot. When they arrive in Ambrose, they discover what is essentially a ghost town. When they go to a church to ask for help, the realise they’ve interrupted a funeral.

They’re met outside by a man Bo, who just happens to own the car garage. He tells them to wait until the service is done before he can help them. In the meantime, the couple explore the nearby Trudy’s House of Wax. And it’s literally a house made out of wax. Why someone thought a house made of wax was a good idea in the American south is beyond me. But hey – it looks good.

After visiting the museum, Bo invites the couple to his house so Wade can use the toilet. Carly becomes inpatient after waiting for a long time. It’s not until she spots that Bo’s truck has only one headlight that she realises something isn’t right. And it certainly isn’t.

Carly and Wade’s friends decide to give up on the game and return to pick them up in Ambrose. Only things aren’t going to turn out too well for them when they reach their destination.

Now – as this movie is nearly 20 years old, I feel like it’s not spoiling anything by saying that Wade isn’t missing because he was taking a very long dump. Instead of a final girl with her man, she ends up fighting side-by-side with her brother as they take on a pair of weird siblings obsessed with their mama.

The climax of House of Wax takes place as the building is slowly melting from a fire. This bit ox SFX is absolutely brilliant. I loved this SO much. It’s both gross and incredible to look at. You might just need to ignore the outdated CGI mixed in.

House of Wax is often called out for being unoriginal. It’s a loose remake of a remake; so there’s plenty of well-trodden path here. It depends what you like, I think. I quite enjoyed the twists; they’re soapy and a little bit silly. But what were you expecting from a movie that cast Paris Hilton at the height of her The Simple Life fame?

It’s good to have originality in storytelling, but I do think there’s something to be said about new technologies adding things to a story. Sure – this movie could have been about 20 minutes shorter to keep up the pace. But I’m someone who gets grumpy as soon as I realise a movie is over 90 minutes.

I appreciated the themes of siblinghood. It’s ultimately a movie about the bonds of siblings written by siblings (Chad and Carey Hayes). I do wish it was explored a bit more. It would be really fun to see this redone again with a pair of sisters.

And yes. I do think there could be another remake of this. While there are three movies around this story, there are also others in the genre like Waxworks, which partly inspired the great Waxwork and countless Goosebumps-esque stories involving wax museums. I want to see this done as a found footage movie a la Hell House. This movie was halfway there by including the use of cam footage. Let’s do this again!

Wax museums will never not be weird.

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