xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
The Dead Teenager Movie has grown up. The characters in "House of Wax" are in their 20s and yet still repeat the fatal errors of all the "Friday the 13th" kids who checked into Camp Crystal Lake and didn't check out. ("Since all the other campers have been beheaded, eviscerated or skewered, Marcie, obviously there's only one thing for us to do: Go skinny-dipping at midnight in the haunted lake.") In "House of Wax," two carloads of college students leave Gainesville for a big football game in Baton Rouge, and take an ominous detour along the way, leading them into what looks like the Texas Chainsaw Theme Park. "This town is not even on the GPS!" says one of the future Dead Post-Teenagers.
Some will complain that the movie begins slowly, despite a steamy sex scene involving Paris Hilton, and an ominous confrontation with a slack-jawed local man who drives a pickup truck, an innocent and utilitarian vehicle that in horror movies is invariably the choice of the depraved. I didn't mind the slow start, since it gave me time to contemplate the exemplary stupidity of these students, who surely represent the bottom of the academic barrel at the University of Florida.
Consider. They decide to camp overnight in a clearing in the dark, brooding woods. There is a terrible smell. The guy in the pickup truck drives up and shines his brights on them until Carly's ex-con brother Nick (Chad Michael Murray) breaks one of the headlights. You do not get away with headlight-breaking in Chainsaw Country. The kids should flee immediately, but no: They settle down for the night.
In the morning, a fan belt is found to be mysteriously broken. An ominous sign: Fan belts do not often break in parked cars. Wade (Jared Padalecki) and girlfriend Carly (Elisha Cuthbert) unwisely take a ride into town for a replacement fan belt -- from a guy they meet when they discover the source of the smell: A charnel-pit of rotting road-kill. The guy is dumping a carcass into the pout at the time. Not the kind of person you want to ask for a lift. Is that a human hand sticking up from the middle of the pile? "This is weird," observes Paige. That night, when they are alone at the camp (not prudent), she treats her boyfriend Blake (Robert Ri'chard) to a sexy dance that perhaps reminds him of a vi'deo he once saw on the Web.