House of Wax Jaume Collet-Sierra

Any film that was cast around the "talents" of Paris Hilton is more or less doomed from the start. Director Collet-Sierra made this film with only the overexposed hotel heiress in mind, and his directorial debut suffers for it. Loosely based on the far-superior 1953 horror flick starring Vincent Price, House uses very little of the original idea from the classic and updates it with some sexy actors to appeal to teens and young adults. Chad Michael Murray provides the female fantasy, whereas Elisha Cuthbert gives men another body to show next to Hilton's — and no, there is no ménage a trois with both actresses. The story is tired and familiar: a group of six friends go on a road trip then one of the cars breaks down in the middle of "nowheresville." They discover a small abandoned town that features a house of wax and slowly, one by one, they get picked off by the lone resident, a madman with a fondness for covering everything and everyone with wax. There is an overwhelming and unavoidable feeling of sadism over the course of watching this film; it's hard to care for any character, so the desire to see everyone smoulder in wax comes often. Murray is miscast as the badass outcast, showing he's made for the hurting sensitive type. Hilton is every bit as bad as you'd imagine and then some (though the constant videotaping of her by a friend shows she can take a joke), and even the talented Cuthbert can't shake the stink off. The look of the film, however, is fairly impressive. As a featurette reveals, the crew used very little visual effects and mostly enhancements to get the look down right without relying on CGI, which is respectable. The house, which was built from a miniature set, is an impressive creation, especially when it is melting to the ground at the end. There's an alternate opening that is rather cool, but hardly relevant to the storyline and the b-roll and bloopers — with commentary by cast members — suffers from the distraction of watching a split screen and hearing the four airheads babbling about insignificant minutiae. Plus: gag reel, featurette, trailer. (Warner)