House of Wax

House of Wax ★★★★½

the meta-slasher de(re?)constructs and collapses on itself (literally, the title melts as its protagonists climb thru it/our screen) -- the moment where the killer shoots Hilton's impaled corpse w/another character's camcorder is almost certainly 10 yrs ahead of its time (Craven later approaches something similar in Scream 4, but Williamson's ability to make any concept dealing with a whiff of postmodernism rancid sinks that one, whilst Berlinger's not-quite-cult status sequel to The Blair Witch Project does the same 5 years earlier though that film is sadly in a compromised state). perhaps this works best, though, b/c it does not question the foolishness of these characters, or their inevitable fates; instead painting them in the same light *any* slasher would. Serra simply has a better grasp on genre and geography than any of his peers, and thru this he constructs his own version of the meta-slasher, choosing aesthetic over cheap joke. not his best but one of his most potent and deserving of classic status.

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