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Review: Waz (2007)

Directed by: Tom Shankland | 105 minutes | horror, thriller, crime | Actors: Stellan Skarsgård, Melissa George, Ashley Walters, Tom Hardy, Paul Kaye, John Sharian, Selma Blair, Barbara Adair, Peter Ballance, Sally Hawkins, Lauren Hood, ‘Sean’ Brian Jordaan, Sheila Kerr, Michael Liebman, Joshua O ‘ Gorman, Alibe Parsons, Robert Phillips, Marcus Valentine, Michael Wildman, Larry Cowan, Laurence Doherty, Roy McManus, Igor Smiljevic, Alvin Charles

“Waz” is a mix of a grim police thriller in the style of “Se7en”, in which a duo of police officers start the hunt for a serial killer, and the more recent torture horror films like “Saw” and “Hostel”. Fortunately, the emphasis is more on the police aspect than the torture scenes, because almost no one is waiting for yet another bloody festival of pain. Yet as the film progresses there are a few in which you will undoubtedly put your teeth together.

Melissa George (“30 Days of Night”) plays Helen Westcott, a young policewoman who has just been linked to veteran Eddie Argo (Stellan Skarsgård). The first crime scene is the harbor, where the body of a pregnant woman, girlfriend of a gangster boss, lies. The letters “W∆Z” are carved into her belly. With a business card like that, it must be a serial killer, says Argo, and when the victim’s boyfriend is found, with the same bloody inscription, the case is a fact. The film has even more in common with films such as “Se7en” and “Saw”: here too, the killer wants to teach the victims a lesson. Scientist George R. Price and his genetics equation are inventively integrated into the film. It’s all about a choice: Would you kill the sweetest person in your life if you could save your own life with it? An interesting question that will definitely make you think. The murderer wants to substantiate this theory and has very logical reasons for it.

“Waz” is reminiscent of police thrillers from the 1970s, early 1980s. The film is set in New York, but has also been shot in European cities such as Belfast. The cast is, except for Selma Blair, un-American. The gray, dingy atmosphere is sublime and convincingly presented. Especially the scenes in the house of heroin whore Elly Carpenter (Sally Hawkins) seem authentic. Her role in the whole generates deep emotional reactions. The actors do a great job. Melissa George may be a little too inexperienced to take on the heavy role, but the fact that she is reminiscent of Charlize Theron, and not just because of her appearance, is proof enough of her talent. Stellan Skarsgård also manages to impress in his role and regularly misleads the viewer. That is also the strength of the film: even though the viewer already knows whodunnit halfway through the film, the why is still unclear. The psychological aspects of the film are therefore very strong. “Waz” also has a plot twist, something that seems almost mandatory in these types of movies, but this one is so unexpected that its effect has quite an impact.