House of Wax [1953]

Director: André de Toth
Stars: Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, Paul Picerni
Genre: Horror
Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 165 minutes

You know the one about the group of horny kids who get offed one by one? Yeah, so do director Jaume Collet-Serra and his screenwriters, who have updated an old Vincent Price flick and sandwiched it between hearty slices of The Blair Witch Project and various Friday the 13th films. Lots of WB and Fox network hotties--including 24's Elisha Cuthbert, One Tree Hill's Chad Michael Murray, and, well, Paris Hilton--have car trouble and stumble onto a town populated by real killer personalities. The R-rated result is fairly gruesome and, though no one ever quite looks frightened enough, Collet-Serra knows his way around a jolting suspense sequence or two. Cuthbert and an unintentionally funny Murray (striking ludicrous poses as some kind of real toughie) act more like angry ex-lovers than the fraternal twins they're supposed to be; Hilton acts bored while her real-life video scandal is exploited for ironic kicks; and the film heads shamelessly over-the-top with each new twist. As an exercise in bloody mayhem, it has a few novel touches, but you can easily find better scares. --Steve Wiecking

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