WAZ (W Delta Z)

Year: 2007
Production Co: Vertigo Films
Director: Tom Shankland
Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Melissa George, Selma Blair
When I read about this film I thought it was a torture porn horror movie, which is one of the reasons I imagine a lot of people saw it. But hardcore Fangoria fans hoping for buckets of claret will be disappointed - this is not a horror film, it's a police thriller with horror elements.

A serial killer has turned up in the backstreet industrial burroughs of New York, and detectives who are just as grimy and grizzled as the streets go on the trail, including the smoking, scowling gumshoe-styled Eddie (Skarsgård), his cadre of blokey fellow cops and the new girl on the block, wet behind the ears but determined to prove herself Helen (George).

Dispatching victims by apparent torture and electrocution, they're found with the symbol 'W∆Z' carved into their charred flesh.

It looks like another follow-the-killer story, albeit inventively shot and making great use of the gritty handheld camerawork so many films opt for lately. But there's a Hitchcockian history behind the case, involving a brutal home invasion on a young woman (Blair) and her mother, a police case buried through bad evidence and corruption, and secret relationships, the most surprising of which comes straight out of the blue and ends up with the person in the torture chair you least expected, and for the most shocking reason.

Comparisons to Saw are inevitable because of the premise (wronged victim wreaks revenge by engineering a horrible trap that puts life, death or torture in the hands of loved ones), but it after setting out to look like another bloodstained urban crime thriller it tells a good story.

The gore is - as always - not as bad as you expect, and although the nails hammered under fingernails isn't full frontal (this is no Bloodsucking Freaks), you'll still flinch away.

But what is it with Melissa George and gory horror movies? Is it a concerted effort to steer herself away from Naomi Watt's path, or an evil streak?

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