Susan’s Horror Pick: House of Wax
Time for another horror recommendation! But first, a few words on how I’m making these selections.
First, as I said previously, I’m choosing things that are available on Netflix, or were last I checked. Secondly, for now I’m trying to go with lesser-known or at least lesser-watched movies, rather than recommending you watch something high profile like Cabin in the Woods. You’re more than likely heard a lot about that movie, you don’t really need me pointing you at it. That’s also why you won’t see me mentioning something like [REC] or even Trick or Treat. You know about these movies already, so while they might show up on my list of the best horror movies, they’re not going here. Ok? Ok!
Today’s selection is House of Wax (2005). Yes, the one with Paris Hilton. She’s actually surprisingly competent and dies wonderfully. (That’s not a spoiler – enticing you to come watch Paris Hilton die was actually part of the marketing for the movie.)
The plot is as by-the-numbers as a horror movie can possibly be. A bunch of unusually attractive twenty-somethings (or twenty-somethings trying to convince us they’re teenagers, I don’t actually remember) find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere, with the only nearby town playing home to a spectacular wax museum. Once quite the tourist attraction, the museum and its surrounding town have both since fallen into disrepair, though the exhibits are still remarkably lifelike. Yeah, I think you can see where this is going.
Elisha Cuthbert stars as the damsel in distress, but uses her experiences of constantly being in danger on 24 to her advantage. She comes off as in over her head, but still smart enough to use what’s around her to get the hell out. Also refreshing is that the male lead isn’t her doomed boyfriend, but her brother. You don’t get a lot of positive family representations in horror movies (and, indeed, House of Wax has more than its share of familial strife), but I enjoyed seeing the bond of siblings for a change. Family doesn’t always turn you into a twisted psychopath, despite what the horror genre would have you believe. The rest of the cast fulfill their tropish roles adequately, but none are as vibrant or watchable as Cuthbert.
House of Wax is, as you might expect, very gory and violent. The kills are creative and the effects well-crafted, so if you’re not afraid to get good and bloody, add it to your Halloween queue.