House of Wax (originally titled Wax House, Baby) is a 2005 American-Australian horror thriller film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and stars Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton and Jared Padalecki. It is a loose remake of the 1953 film of the same name, itself a remake of the 1933 movie Mystery of the Wax Museum. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released in US theaters on May 6, 2005. It grossed $70 million worldwide and has a 25% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
In 1974, a woman makes a wax mask as one of her sons eats breakfast. Her husband enters with another son. After being strapped and taped into his chair, he scratches his mother's hand. Then she slaps the child across the face.
In 2005, Carly Jones, her brother Nick, her boyfriend Wade, her best friend Paige, Paige's boyfriend Blake, and Nick's friend Dalton are on their way to a football game in Louisiana. When night falls, the group sets up camp. A stranger in a pickup truck visits their campsite, shines his lights, and refuses to leave or address them until Nick smashes one of his headlights. The next morning, Wade discovers that his fan belt is broken. Carly and Paige wander into the woods, and Carly falls down a hill, into a pit filled with animal carcasses. After rescuing her, the group meets a strange, rural man named Lester, who offers to drive Carly and Wade to the nearby town of Ambrose to get a new fan belt, while the rest of them go to the football game.
The two arrive at Ambrose, which is virtually a ghost town. Unable to find an attendant at the gas station, they wander into the church, disrupting a funeral. There, they meet a mechanic named Bo, who offers to sell them a fan belt after the funeral. While waiting for the services to end, Carly and Wade visit the wax museum, which itself is made of wax and is the central feature of the town. The gas station does not have the right size fan belt, so they follow Bo to his house. Wade is knocked out by Bo's brother, Vincent. Outside, Carly realizes Bo is the one who visited them the night before, after noticing the broken headlight. She runs to the church for help, but finds that it is populated only by wax sculptures. Bo captures her and brings to the cellar of the gas station, where she is restrained. Meanwhile, Wade is stripped naked and strapped to a chair to be covered in wax.
Nick, Dalton, Paige, and Blake realize they will not arrive at the game in time and turn around. Nick and Dalton arrive in Ambrose to find Carly and Wade. Nick visits the gas station, where he questions Bo about Carly's whereabouts. When she tries to gain Nick's attention, Bo cuts off the tip of Carly's finger, but she tears her glued lips apart and screams for help. Nick fends off Bo and frees Carly. Meanwhile, Dalton finds Wade, who is still alive but unable to move due to the wax. Attempting to peel off the wax, Dalton realizes that he is unintentionally removing Wade's skin in the process. Vincent finds Dalton and slashes Wade's face with a machete, killing him. After a chase through the museum, Vincent catches Dalton and decapitates him. Meanwhile, Nick and Carly realize that all of the town's inhabitants are real people covered in wax; Bo and Vincent have been luring people in and covering them in wax to make the figures look more realistic.
At the campsite, Vincent kills Blake and chases Paige to a sugar mill, where he kills her. Nick and Carly return to the house to find Wade and Dalton. When Bo and Vincent return, they chase Carly and Nick to the House of Wax. It is revealed that Bo is the "evil" brother and Vincent is the "good" one; since their parents died, Bo has been controlling the more mild-mannered Vincent through physical and verbal abuse. After a chase scene, Carly beats Bo to death with a baseball bat. Nick unintentionally sets the House of Wax on fire, and the wax figures start to melt, as does the whole house. An enraged Vincent chases Carly to the top floor, but Nick stabs Vincent. His body falls through the floor, and he lands on top of his brother's corpse. Carly and Nick escape the House of Wax as it melts to the ground.
The next day, the police arrive and report that Ambrose has been abandoned for ten years when the local sugar mill failed. As Nick and Carly are taken to a hospital, the policeman reveals Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair had a third son. From inside the ambulance, Carly sees Lester (the third brother) who smiles and waves goodbye.
- Elisha Cuthbert as Carly Jones
- Chad Michael Murray as Nick Jones
- Brian Van Holt as Bo Sinclair / Vincent Sinclair
- Thomas Adamson as Young Bo
- Sam Harkess as Young Vincent
- Paris Hilton as Paige Edwards
- Jared Padalecki as Wade Felton
- Jon Abrahams as Dalton Chapman
- Robert Ri'chard as Blake Johnson
- Damon Herriman as Lester Sinclair
- Andy Anderson as Sheriff
- Dragicia Debert as Trudy Sinclair
- Murray Smith as Dr. Victor Sinclair
The film was originally titled Wax House, Baby before Warner Bros. realized they had permission to use the title House of Wax. Posters and advertising banners were printed with the Wax House, Baby title. Principal photography of House of Wax took place in Queensland, Australia.
In January 2006, Village Roadshow Studios owners Village Theme Park Management and Warner Brothers Movie World Australia announced they were suing special effects expert David Fletcher and Wax Productions because of a fire on the set during production.
The $7 million lawsuit alleges that Mr. Fletcher and Wax Productions were grossly negligent over the fire, which destroyed part of the Gold Coast's Warner Bros. Movie World studios. The alleged grounds of negligence included not having firefighters on stand-by and using timber props near a naked flame. The set where the fire broke out has now been demolished and is a field kept for Movie World for future projects.
Opening in 3,111 theaters, the film grossed $12 million in its opening weekend. House of Wax earned $70 million worldwide, $32 million of which came from North American receipts. House of Wax also earned $42 million in VHS/DVD rentals. The film premiered at several festivals, including Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Critics Circle, Tribeca Film Festival, Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, among others.
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 25% of 151 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.3/10. The site's consensus reads, "Bearing little resemblance to the 1953 original, House of Wax is a formulaic but better-than-average teen slasher flick." On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film has a score of 41 out of 100 based on 36 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars and wrote, "House of Wax is not a good movie, but it is an efficient one and will deliver most of what anyone attending House of Wax could reasonably expect...assuming it would be unreasonable to expect very much." He said of Hilton's performance that "she is no better or worse than the typical Dead Post-Teenager and does exactly what she is required to do in a movie like this, with all the skill—admittedly finite—that is required."Film critic Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post called it a "guilty pleasure" and wrote that it gives horror fans exactly what they want. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle rated it 4/5 stars and wrote, "After a month, no one will talk about this movie again. Still, with a picture like this, there is really only one question: Is it fun? Yes. Lots. Definitely." Bruce Westbrook of the Houston Chronicle called it boring and poorly-acted, though he complimented Cuthbert and Murray. A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote, "The set design is fairly elaborate by the standards of the genre, and the victims don't die in precisely the order you might expect, but everything else goes pretty much according to formula".
- Main article: House of Wax: Music from the Motion Picture (album)
House of Wax: Music from the Motion Picture is the title of a publicly released soundtrack used for House of Wax, consisting of commercially recorded songs. A second album, simply titled House of Wax, was released containing the film score, composed by John Ottman.
- Main article: House of Wax: Original Motion Picture Score (album)
- CineAction, 68th issue, 2006, page 8. "Joel Silver remarks 'So, we had gotten the clearance for the name "House of Wax", which had been the title of a previous film released in the 1950s. We were getting ready to finish work on advertising when someone said "stop, we can't call it that." I thought I had missed a meeting, or that the licensing office had made an error. In actuality, the crewmember didn't know we had clearance for the name, and had been an avid fan of the original "House of Wax". [...] We finished production on the posters and commercials and billboards that read "Wax House, Baby" when we found out we had the proper naming rights, so we had to start over again.'"