How do you solve a problem like House of Wax?
How do you fix 2005 horror film House of Wax? Let’s not piss about, there’s a lot that needs to be fixed in this film. It needs a whole wrecking and indeed fixing crew in order to get it to the stage of being even slightly palatable. Not only that but the film didn’t exactly set the box office alight. Costing $40 million to make, it made just $32 million domestically, and a further $36 million world wide. Whilst it probably did make enough money to satisfy the production company, the same year saw The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a slightly less mediocre film, make $144 million world wide. It’s obvious then that something may have gone a little bit wrong; fear not though, I’m here to fix it - 14 long years later!
First, let’s break down why it’s a failure, and then try and build from the ground up:
Knock knock? Who’s there? No - one, I was just making you aware of just how wooden the cast of this movie are. See what I did there? To be fair, they aren’t all terrible, but the slightly better actors are… overshadowed… by the performance of one Paris Hilton. My god she’s a dreadful actor. Cut the cast, through them on the junk heap. There were always much better actors available, even smaller names, who could have done the story a little bit more justice.
Forget the really bad twist
Yes, yes, yes. The twist in this was to set up for a possible sequel. OMG the bad guys were triplets,and that hillbilly looks mighty suspicious right now.. A twist like this just isn’t necessary in a film like this; we can’t all be M Night Shyamalan, and the world is actually a better place for it. If you put all your eggs into the plot twist basket, you’re going to make the chicken version of crime watch when you smash them on the floor. Focus on making the story carry itself, forget about how you’re going to build to the sequel; you can draw that up afterwards.
Improve the story
Look at the story of House of Wax, it’s a symphony of the generic. It’s some teenagers...alone… in the woods… then there’s a slasher picking them off one by one. This painfully overused storyline is masked below two twin-psychodramas which I personally found it very hard to invest in. It’s all based off the “good twin, evil twin” fallacy, and trying to play on who we think is the bad twin out of the villains of the piece. In truth, let’s make no mistake, they’re both the bad twin; they kill people to make a happy little wax town from their disintegrating corpses. If I were to make a recommendation for the story, I would say start by trying to remove the generic elements from it initially. The whole teens lost in the wilderness thing hasn’t cut it for a very long time, outside of the parodic. The town full of waxworks is fine, but you could just use death masks, or something similar, rather than expecting us to believe that coating a person in wax and letting them slowly die inside is the best way to go about things.
Keep the soundtrack
What? Something positive? Now, I know it won’t be for everyone, but i’ve always loved the soundtrack to House of Wax. Not the OST, mind. Featuring songs such as “Prayer” by Disturbed and “Spitfire” by the Prodigy, if you have a music taste like mine, which sort of stopped growing in the early 2000s, it’s a treat to listen to. Bravo. If you don’t happen to have the same kind of musical taste as I do, you still have to admit that it has a reasonable connection with the horror genre. The dark tones and lyrics that are used across the soundtrack could comfortably be used on other film soundtracks.
These are just a few thoughts I have about House of Wax that could make it better. If there’s anything that you think I should add, let me know!