A Sneak Peek at House of Wax by B. Alan Orange
"It seems everyone involved forgot they were supposed to be reinventing the original House of Wax and instead opted to produce a sequel to the 2003 Hillbilly Slasher flick Wrong Turn."
And you can quote me on that.
I've become extremely disenfranchised with writing movie reviews. You can only say the same thing so many times. I'm burnt out. Tired. My fingers are cramping, and I think I've figured out way. It's because every movie is the same. Each new vehicle I peruse melds into the next, and I forget I even have anything useful to expel in defense of my private viewing pleasures. Plus, the Studios simply don't want me having a unique opinion or take on things. Sites like Movieweb are not supposed to be about actual, factual reviews. No, and it shouldn't come as a surprise. We're here simply to flaunt an advertisement for any given piece of stock footage that has a run at becoming a franchise. That's it. That's all. And that's why there aren't a thousand sites devoted to reviewing each new fast food product thrust upon us by the likes of Taco Bell and Burger King. Huge conglomerates like Time Warner are Hell Bent on turning our cinematic interests into convenient store fodder. They want to numb our minds to the point of no return. They see any feisty film critic as the enemy. How do you destroy the enemy? Easy. You just keep bombarding them with the same tired formula until they give up. And give in. "Let's see how long these bastards can crack wise about this slick, slasher copout held on a rotating basis. We'll toss their collective huddle into a whirlwind of horror schlock until they suffocate from the boredom."
That's right. It's my belief that, in this current state of cinematic awfulness, Studios are trying to kill off the critic by anesthetizing their brain; turning it into the same goo held within the average moviegoers head. That has to be the reason we keep seeing the same sh*t over and over again. Weekend after weekend. I want to review House of Wax about as much as I want to touch these dead cockroach guts with the tip of my foreskin. It's disgusting, the linoleum's cold, and who knows what this little bug ate for lunch. Mixing it with my genitals might create some new airborne virus that plummets the skyrocketing population, cutting our world domination in half. But I have to do it. I must. Why, because those in charge are holding it over my head like a double-edged axe. Seriously. I can't believe I signed up for this sh*t. I have to sit here and wax (every pun intended) poetically about some wrecked piece of C grade garbage, and what do I get out of it? Nothing but the joy of having to see the movie itself. That's right. There's no money involved in this venture. No fun. It's a simple trade: Write a review, and you can see the movie for free. Hmm, let's think about this for a moment…
I wouldn't pay to see it. So, I'm really not saving myself any money. By seeing it, I have to sit and do work…That's a horrible pay off. This gig sucks…
The studios are winning.
Pretty soon, my eyeballs will be dried into the back of my head, and I'll have nothing to show for it. Except some horribly written essays floating around cyberspace and the occasional piece of hatemail. And its not even Paris Hilton's fault. No. Really. It's not. That's the rub. You see, House of Wax is not a bad movie. At all. In fact, it's a well-produced, good looking jaunt through the horror landscape. It suffers from only one thing: Sameness. I've seen this same exact sh*t a hundred times or more. Sitting there, watching its xeroxed script, evoked a strange sense of déjà vu. I could only wonder how great this experience must be for someone that has never gone to the movies before.
I'd like to think it would be perfect for teenagers. Maybe they haven't breezed through the catalogue of crap I have. Maybe they're unfamiliar with the workings of the genre. I hoped, for a fleeting second, that it might take somebody by surprise, somewhere. But then, reading just our Bulletin Boards here at this site, I realized our current teenage audience is a lot savvier than any Hollywood Executive would ever give them credit for. They, too, have seen it all before. The only audience member a movie like House of Wax would shock and surprise is some old senile bag that's forgotten how to go to the bathroom. This sudden notion had me wishing for a strong bout of Alzheimer's midway through these proceedings. I need to get me one of those mind erase machines from either Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or that Ben Affleck movie Paycheck. If only I could strap it to my face before heading into any subsequent free screening, I think I'd enjoy this job a hellva lot more.
What took me by surprise the most, as far as House of Wax is concerned; is that it's a straight-up Hillbilly flick. This has more to do with Rob Schmidt's WRONG TURN than it does that creepy 3-D House of Wax movie starring Vincent Price from 1953. Sure, I'm super glad the writers acknowledged a strong veer away from the original source material. That's basically what I want to see when I see a remake. But none of these same people involved with producing this low budget thriller have confessed the obvious. That they've basically created a Wrong Turn sequel that is on equal par with its predecessor.
Actually, that's a little unfair. Jaume Serra's newly converted effort is the slightly funner ride. Even though its build up is a painful kick to the hemies, its last half hour is inventive and worth a look. The climax is one of the best I've seen in a film of this kind for quite some time, and it took me back. I wasn't expecting it to amp past awesomeness. But it does. And I could almost recommend it for that. But the beginning is just too clichéd and ridiculous. It's like having to stare at the same stretch of road for an entire piss-stopless night.
The film is strange in that it has two very distinct styles book-ending its total worth. This leitmotif of sorts meets in the middle, giving the divergent feeling that two wholly separate directors created the first and the second half. The second half is structured and by-the-numbers. It plays by the rules. The first half, though, is wildly unstable. It plays like a Euro-documentary that couldn't find itself a professional editor. Its scatter-shot and all over the menu like a rotgut buffet. This unbalance is distracting, like water in the ear. I'd go as far as to call the opening passage a huge mess. The prologue is supposed to bring us into the experience. Not make us want to turn the other cheek and check out the audio coming in from the auditorium next door.
Takashi Miike is a name that gets flaunted by arthouse faggots a lot these days. He's a snowballing point of conversation for any lame party huddle. Why? Because we don't have anything like him in the States. Lately, a lot of young auteurs have tried to emulate his style. And by that, I don't mean they're pulling out all the impossibly gory details that would get any DGA member banned. That stuff is easy. Spraying a room with blood is a piece of cake. I'm talking about the man's shooting and editing style. Miike excels at abandoning structure. But he does it in an artful way that is seamless and unnoticeable. Sometimes, the action in his films is hard to weave together in a formative thought pattern. You walk away from his films with a sense of memory. It's like a half forgotten dream. You know something happened. You're aware of what it was. But you can't concentrate and conceal it as a linear thought. Serra purposely tries to steal and emulate that process here, with the first part of his film. But he fails miserably. Because we're always aware of the process. We can tell he's running the machine. It doesn't come as an effortless emotion on his part. We can sense the manipulation.
It's not weird that he fails at achieving the aura of Miike's palate. He's being a method plagiarist. Its only when he stops trying to achieve some sort of artistic substance that he arrives at his goal of entertaining us. I can sense why he split the stylistic nature of the film in half like this. He was trying something different. He was trying to create a piece of pop art. That's extremely hard to do when all you have to paint on is a sheet of black velvet. The soft comfortable fabric ruins the medium. It doesn't really matter what kind of oils you splash on there. It's only going to find a buyer at a Mexican Swap Meet.
House of Wax is standard issue horror fare. Despite an original, inspired ending, it's still just another number in the box of trash sitting by someone's TV set. It'll be forgotten within minutes of its arrival. Luckily, it has Paris Hilton, which adds a bit of old fashioned novelty to the mix. When she gets older, House of Wax will be mentioned in retrospect, I'm sure. And somebody will watch it for that certain type of obtainable kitsch. Seeing her get a pipe thrust through her forehead didn't make me stand up and cheer, as most of the audience did. Hating her is about as formulaic as this movie's beat structure.
And that's about all I have to say about that.
Like I told you earlier, I didn't want to review this stupid, goddamn movie anyways.
You f*cking bastards. YOU ARE KILLING ME!