W?Z (DVD)

The unfortunately named Waz — insert own toilet gag here — was always going to suffer with a title like that. Yes, yes, I know: it's actually W Delta Z, and it's all to do with some mathematic principle of evolutionary theory, but give me a break here. If you don't take the, er, waz out of the title, what are you left with? Aside from the fact that it's a virtual copy of Se7en — even down to the mathematic symbol in the title?

It is, of course, a far lesser experience than Fincher's modern classic — a Thr3e perhaps. While Fincher added depth and considerable nastiness to a predictable genre and produced a clever work of twisted art, British director Tom Shankland adds the science and ups the viciousness and produces ... a run-of-the-mill slasher movie, albeit one with grislier-than-usual slayings and a deeply pretentious edge. And, in the usually reliable Stellan Skarsgard's central performance, the sort of eye-popping OTT tics and shouting that's hard to sit through, even if it is the style that's about to win Daniel Day-Lewis a hugely unjustified Oscar.

Skarsgard is Argo, a jaded detective investigating a series of bizarre and bizarrely cruel murders. As more bodies are found, all carved with the symbols of the titular theorem, a pattern is slowly revealed. There's a moral edge to these murders, a killer out for revenge and, if Argo and his rookie assistant Westcott (George) have got things right, more victims to come. As events unfold, there are a couple of decent twists, but it's hard to celebrate something that feels such a blatant rip-off of a far better film. Shankland has clearly got some talent, so why waste it making this?

EXTRAS *** text Deleted scenes (which can be watched with or without commentary); interviews with Shankland, Bradley and producer James Richardson; a making-of featurette; a "torture" featurette (all about the make-up and special effects) and the online trailer.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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