Marketed as a member of the Se7en school of psychological thriller, the gory realities of WAZ’s serial killer chase premise put it closer to the iniquitous barbarism presented by James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s Saw series.
Detective Eddie Argo (Stellan Skarsgård) is jaded. He sulks his way through New York crime scenes tailed by wide-eyed new work partner Helen (Melissa George). Their newest case is an intellectual puzzle wrapped inside a sadist’s head-trip. The killer in question is hell bent on proving the WAZ equation – a ‘selfish gene’ theory that forces victims into kill-or-be-killed ultimatums.
Despite borrowing a shadowy slow build technique from Se7en for the first half of the film, WAZ quickly succumbs to the de rigueur torture porn currently being practised by Eli Hostel Roth and his many acolytes, thus sacrificing a decent thriller for gore points. Though the nuances of the narrative itself are innovative, there is an air of uneasiness hanging over WAZ, and the threat of fingernail removal is only half the reason. This may be due in some part to first-time director Tom Shankland and writer Clive Bradley’s background in British TV drama (Jericho, City of Vice). Indeed WAZ feels at times like a low-budget cop show with hardcore violence spliced in. The result is distractingly raw-edged and incongruous.
Selected release from Fri 22 Feb.