Director: Victor Matellano
Writer: Victor Matellano, Hugo Stuven
Starring: Jimmy Shaw, Jack Taylor, Geraldine Chaplin, Antonio Mayans
Journalist Mike gets an assignment to spend one whole evening in a spooky wax museum documenting any strange occurrences while presenting the stories behind many of the notorious figures immortalised in wax. Initially believing to be alone inside the place, Mike eventually finds himself being terrorised and wondering if he survive the night?
WAX wastes no time getting started and within thirty seconds of the pre-credit sequence rookie director Victor Matellano, in his first feature (excluding the documentary ZARPAZOS! UN VIAJE POR EL SPANISH HORROR) gives us breasts and what appears to be the beginnings of a torture porn flick in the vein of HOSTEL and LIVE FEED..
After this opening sequence the style shifts away slightly from the generic, contemporary torture horror, but for better or worse decides to keep in the boob shots, as it elaborates on the story of our antagonist, the insane sadist Dr Knox (played by Jack Taylor – HORROR OF THE ZOMBIES; CONAN THE BARBARIAN; THE NINTH GATE; GOYA’S GHOSTS; PIECES) who is seeking to test the limits of human endurance. Unfortunately it becomes apparent that Matellano had not decided exactly what type of film he wanted to make. A horror sure, but as it flits around from one style of presentation to another the whole thing just appears a little confused as WAX presents us with torture porn, classic 50’s horror and found footage horror all with no real cohesive structure.
Moving forwards into contemporary times, we learn our journalist Mike (Jimmy Shaw – LORD OF ILLUSIONS) is being cajoled by a forceful TV producer (Geraldine Chaplin – THE ORPHANAGE; THE WOLFMAN; CHAPLIN) into an assignment at a wax museum. The script however does not settle for just the basics but also goes on to tell us that Mike has a kid, an irrelevant point added in simply as a device to try and force us to feel some sympathy and affection for the man ahead of what is sure to be an ordeal. Although it does not work and the character ends up merely being a conduit for our fear, aided and evidenced by the (justifiable) employment of found footage shots.
Now despite the earlier confused identity of the film, WAX does begin to show promise as it slowly reduces the torture porn element into the background and starts to focus on more creepy scares and tension as Jack Taylor’s Dr Knox starts to channel a more modern and much more extreme Prof. Henry Jarrod, as played by the legendary Vincent Price, in the 1955 version of HOUSE OF WAX, with the character going as far to actually state his admiration in the film for him. Meta indeed. Speaking of Jack Taylor, I was actually a little unsure about him in this role based on the trailers but he turns in a strong performance as the cultured sadist while Jimmy Shaw as our scared journalist turns in a competent performance that allows you to believe in him even if you are not fully invested in his predicament.
Once we reach the final act both the film and Matellano are in full flow and he begins to craft some genuine moments of tension that had me on the edge of my seat. Meanwhile the setting of the Wax Museum at night is just perfect, allowing for dark corners and inconclusive shadows to pull your gaze – ideal for a game of human cat and mouse. And despite once again seemingly becoming a little muddled at points, one element that was introduced had me scratching my head somewhat as I tried to work out how it was logically possible thereby reducing its impact, WAX does has a satisfying ending overall.
Similar in some sections to a range of films such as HOUSE OF WAX, FEED, HOSTEL and LIVE FEED as well as taking in the concept of reality TV, Victor Matellano manages to make the most of a low budget and ends up creating a film that will entertain many but ironically due to its attempt to please as many genre fans as possible its lack of cohesive and consistent identity also serves to hamper the film, alongside a couple of minor editing issues. That said for fans of foreign horror WAX is worth checking out as a curiosity and for the cast – just don’t go expecting a revelation or a hidden gem.
Oh and if your thinking this review is sans Naschy (until now) the reason is because you would not even know that he is in it. One final point of interest surrounds actress Geraldine Chaplin who near the end of the film pauses to look at a wax statue of Charlie Chaplin – her actual father.
I watched the 2015 RedRum Spanish blu-ray release and as you would expect from a modern film the audio and picture quality is top notch. The film benefits from audio options in English, Spanish and of course, Catalan while subtitles are provided in Catalan. However not all of the extras have these same options.
Talking of extras, aside from the almost always pointless photo gallery we are also treated to the original trailer (in Spanish) which while quite graphic, focuses primarily on Jack Taylor and certainly whets the appetite for the film. Additionally the disc also contains a teaser trailer, presented in English, which frames the film more in the vein of the found footage genre.
Further extras include deleted scenes which are only very minor and the a behind the scenes featurette entitled Mysteries of a wax museum. Sadly this is primarily in Spanish (or Catalan, sorry I don’t know) and so I haven’t a scooby what was being discussed. All in all though it is a decent package and if you can pick it up cheap it’ll keep you entertained for its short running time.