Splattered

Talking torture, politics, and not-so-sweet revenge with James Wan

"Journalists use that term without quite knowing what it means — I actually had one journalist tell me that," Wan says. "I find it really ironic, because I never set out to make a movie about torturing people. I think that the first Saw was really more of a psychological film about two people stuck in a room, and the traps and games that fans seem to embrace so much now were quite a small portion of the film. I'm a big movie fan, and I want to make movies in every genre. I want to make my romantic comedy one day. A branding like 'splat pack' or 'torture porn' is very limiting for me."

Death Sentence is Wan's second film to hit theaters in 2007, following Dead Silence, a deliberately old-fashioned ghost story that was released with little fanfare by Universal in the spring. ("It was a studio movie, and let's just say that was the reason I wanted to go back to making an indie film," says Wan of the troubled production.) Death Sentence also marks, he says, "a very calculated move" away from the horror genre, of which Wan says he's grown tired. Still, it's not hard to see why Garfield's story and its stark moral landscape appealed to the filmmaker responsible for giving us the era's most philosophical horror-movie bogeyman.

"All my movies are about people with some ideology," he says. "But guess what? It never works out. Here's a story about this guy thinking he can control his situation by going after what he believes in but ultimately paying a dear price for it. He makes the wrong decision. That's another thing my films deal with: choices."

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