A remake of the 1953 Vincent Price movie, which is itself a remake of 1933’s Mystery of the Wax Museum, this is one of the few slashers this month that has moments that bother me, mainly because of the moment when a character nearly falls into the pit where all the highway’s roadkill is stacked up high.
It’s directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, whose Orphan has equally as upsetting moments. He’s also directed Liam Neeson in three movies (Unknown, Non-Stop and The Commuter), as well as the COVID-19 delayed Disney movie Jungle Cruise and the upcoming Black Adam.
A group of friends — Carly (Elisha Cuthbert, 24), her brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray, One Tree Hill), her boyfriend Wade (Jared Padalecki, Supernatural) and friends Paige (Paris Hilton), Blake (Robert Ri’chard) and Dalton (Jon Abrahams) — are on their way to a football game when they decide to camp overnight. A truck comes to screw with them and leaves when Nick smashes out one of its lights.
The next morning, their truck can’t start and they’re stuck in the town of Ambrose, which doesn’t have much except for Trudy’s House of Wax, the home of formerly cojoined twins — and current maniacs — Bo and Vincent Sinclair (Brian Van Holt).
If you know the story of, well, any wax museum movie, you know what’s coming next. What the film does have that many of those are missing are incredible art direction and a willingness to fill the screen with gore, including impaling Paris Holton directly through the forehead (Becca said that when this happened during a teenage viewing of this in theater, there was a standing ovation). The end, as the entire museum melts*, is astounding.
Hilton won that year’s Golden Raspberry Award for worst actress, which really just feels like an attack on her for even making this movie. She’s not all that bad and really all she has to do is show up and get killed. It is a slasher, after all.**
*Village Roadshow Studios and Warner Brothers Movie World Australia sued special effects expert David Fletcher and Wax Productions because of a fire on the set during production, which destroyed part of the Gold Coast’s Warner Bros. Movie World studios.
**That said, it has one of the better soundtracks for a slasher this side of Dream Warriors, if you were into the newer metal of 2005. There’s “Mineva” by the Deftones, “Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World” by Marilyn Manson and, in defiance of my previous statement, “New Dawn Fades” by Joy Division and “Dirt” by The Stooges.