House of Wax, 2005 – ★★★½

Alright, this is better than it has any right to be, with Paris Hilton doing her best (worst?) to screw it up, and duelling heartthrobs Jared Paladecki and Chad Michael Murray in the lead doing more than their fair shares of brooding. But like Dark Castle’s House on Haunted Hill, this is a gorgeous big budget imaginative horror flick. While the cast was more solid in that film, this one has such stunning design work that, honestly, i cannot believe was all done for a horror movie. It’s not really a remake of the Vincent Price film, but instead just could be considered “inspired by,” while naming a baddie Vincent. At the same time, it’s a pretty decent remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, realizing that film’s innate premise better than the literal remake. In all, the acting is mediocre to (seriously, Paris Hilton?) bad, but it’s still exciting and occasionally actually frightening, and all worth it for a gorgeous conclusion that takes the title of the film literally. Also interesting to note is a level of queer subtext between Murray and John Abraham’s Dalton, the kind of thing dudebros would miss, but those of us with functioning gaydar are all over. Can’t believe I sat on this one for so long.

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