House of Wax

Bomb Rating: 

Horror films just aren't what they used to be.

If not for her 2001 sex tape with then-boyfriend Rick Solomon and at least one other indiscrete humping video, this might be considered Paris Hilton's acting debut. However, calling what Hilton does acting would be to besmirch the theatrical arts in a way that could conceivably lead to picketing outside our office. Thankfully, the filmmakers keep Paris controlled, allowing her to explore her acting range much like a farm animal chained to a stake.

Paris plays Paige, best friend to Carly (Elisha Cuthbert). Together they're on a road trip with boyfriends Blake (Robert Ri'chard) and Dalton (John Abrahams). So that audiences must at least guess the order in which these unsuspecting college-aged kids will be mutilated, Carly's twin brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray) and friend Wade (Jared Padalecki) are also along for the ride.

To make things more interesting and increase the tension of the social dynamic, Nick is cast as the dark sheep of the twins. He's maladjusted and has actually done some time. Now, I don't mean to be skeptical or anything, but Chad Michael Murray isn't exactly my idea of threatening. He's like Justin Timberlake light. I realize that some of these suburban white kids occasionally shoot up a school, but most of their mock urban antics still make me giggle. Chad has about as much street cred as a cul-de-sac. Also, note to Hollywood: Twins should look alike.

Shockingly, the kids find themselves camping in parts unknown. One of their cars breaks down as they're about to depart, sending Carly and Dalton into a local town to look for help. There they discover the House of Wax and one of the town residents, Bo (Brian Van Holt), who seems initially helpful, but hides a secret. Although audiences will be somewhat confounded by the lack of social propriety exhibited by the town's nearly invisible residents, they will be even more perplexed by Elisha Cuthbert's various emotional responses to certain discoveries throughout the film. Frankly, it's debatable whether she's horrified by their frequency and violence or by the lumpy bra the incompetent wardrobe person has provided her. Dressing Elisha Cuthbert in a lumpy bra is the kind of offense that can and should get you kicked out of Hollywood for good.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film was the sheer glee the audience exhibited when the villain finally chased down Hilton's character and murdered her. The laughter couldn't have been more substantial had the theater been filled with a gaggle of Nicole Ritchie clones. Horror films just aren't what they used to be.

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