Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, starring Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton, Jared Padalecki, Jon Abrahams and Robert Ri'chard.

In a recent American TV interview, 'House of Wax' star Elisha Cuthbert said that Paris Hilton's grisly demise in the movie would be remembered for years to come. While that's being a little too generous - and a statement that says a lot about just how badly standards have slipped across the entire horror genre - 'House of Wax' does a lot of things right and towers above the dross that has emerged of late.

On their way to a football match twins Carly and Nick (Cuthbert, Murray) and their friends (Hilton, Padalecki, Abrahams, Ri'chard) get lost, ending up out in the backwoods, where one of their cars breaks down. Needing a fan belt, Carly and boyfriend Wade (Padalecki) hitch a ride with a lecherous redneck (day job: picking up roadkill) who takes them to the nearby town of Ambrose.

On arriving, they discover that the town is just as unsettling as the weirdo they've just left behind. Everyone seems to be at a funeral and the local mechanic Bo (Van Horn) doesn't take too kindly to being disturbed in his mourning. But for a man whose beside himself with grief, he hasn't failed to notice the charms of Carly. Killing time until the funeral is over, Carly and Wade go into the dilapidated House of Wax, where all the models look eerily lifelike. And in a short while they're about to discover that the museum always has room for a few more...

Conjuring up much of the same grubby atmosphere and gore as the remake of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', Collet-Serra smartly builds up the tension before launching into a frenzy of mayhem involving the latest batch of America's dumbest teenagers. The town looks great, there's a nice nod of respect to the original with a killer named Vincent and you'll find yourself rooting for Cuthbert who, well aware of her constituency, has inherited the same three-sizes-too-small sleeveless vest that Jessica Biel had in 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. The whole thing is vacuously enjoyable, downright nasty in places and, despite the fact that the ending is rushed, has a pretty spectacular finish.

The way is wide open for a sequel - and this is one of those rare occasions when that seems like a good idea.

Harry Guerin