Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. Australia/USA, 2005. Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment. Screenplay by Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, based on the story by Charles Belden. Cinematography by Stephen F. Windon. Produced by Susan Downey, Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis. Music by John Ottman. Production Design by Graham ‘Grace’ Walker. Costume Design by Alex Alvarez, Graham Purcell. Film Editing by Joel Negron.
The popular Vincent Price classic has been reimagined (read: bastardized) as an excuse to show teen supermodels being sliced and diced. A group of vapid, overly coiffed twentysomethings start on a road trip to a college sports game but are sidetracked by car troubles that leave them stranded in the middle of nowhere. Finding the nearest town, two of them (Elisha Cuthbert, Jared Padalecki) stumble upon a museum that turns out to be run by a madman who turns live humans into wax figures. Horror ensues until spunky Cuthbert and bad-boy brother Chad Michael Murray figure out what’s going on and do their best to save their friends and themselves. Useless character development and an overlong opening act frustrate the viewer before the story finally kicks into swing, but it doesn’t deliver enough chills or thrills, only gross mutilation and general unpleasantness. The ensemble cast members work far too hard to be taken seriously as dramatic actors, which works against them considering they’re supposed to be having fun being in a horror movie. The only sign of life comes from the gloriously petty Paris Hilton, whose monotonous voice and constantly droopy eyes suggest a coked-out, oversexed party girl who is simply begging to be hunted down and murdered. This isn’t exactly an admirable quality, but it’s at least honest and fulfills what audiences look for in this kind of movie. Unfortunately, Hilton’s part is far too small to save the piece, and the rest of the experience is simply a boring retread of slashers of the last few years, regurgitated once again without a shred of originality or creativity.