Director – Franck Khalfoun
Writers – Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur, Joe Spinell (From his original screenplay)
Cast – Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, Liane Balaban
Plot – Frank (Elijah Wood) runs the family mannequin refurbishing shop while attempting his lust for bloodshed. He soon meets Anna (Nora Arnezender) and finds himself falling in love with her while attempting to suppress his murderous urges.
The King’s Review – I recently had the chance to sit down and watch Maniac which is a remake of William Lustig’s 1980 gore fest. I have to admit before my review that I am a fan of the original film on which this film is based. If you have not seen it, I would recommend it but much like this remake, Maniac is not for the weak of heart. It is a brutal, bloody, and often nihilistic piece of celluloid.
Elijah Wood I feel is most notably known as Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings films. If Wood were not cast in the lead role as Frank, I’m not entirely sure that; A) the film would have been as effective and B.) this remake would have received any attention at all except for passionate fans of Grindhouse cinema like myself. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Elijah Wood on screen as Frank. He portrayed a man with deep psychological issues and when he picks up a weapon, the result is brutal to say the least. Subtle things such as Frank talking to himself or to the mannequins he keeps in his room manage to raise the unsettling nature on film. In particular, the way he speaks to his victims, it not only invokes the original performance of Frank by the late Joe Spinnell but also of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. The similarities to Norman Bates are clear and you will see what I mean throughout the film (As always, I try to keep my reviews SPOILER FREE) folks.
Unfortunately, the other actresses featured in the film are not the greatest. Nora Arnezender may be the one shining star aside from Wood in Maniac. Arnezender; who I’m sure some will recognize from Safe House; the 2012 film starring Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington managed to perform well as Anna; the love interest of Frank. I can’t say I fully enjoyed their scenes together because for the most part, those scenes felt forced. With a running time of 89 minutes, I can see why the love angle of the film had to be pushed but I left the film feeling as though if there was just a little more time to show the relationship develop between Anna and Frank, it would have made later scenes more effective. At the end of the day, most fans of the slasher genre don’t come for the solid acting and top notch performances, they come for the gore.
An effective trick used by Maniac’s cinematographer; Maxime Alexandre (best known for his work on The hills have eyes remake, The Crazies remake, P2, and High Tension) was showing Frank exclusively through POV shots. The only glimpses we get of Frank are either through mirrors or reflections or in small circumstances where third person perspective was required to make the scene more sinister. At first, I thought this gimmick would get old but I found myself enjoying this movie on a whole new level as the viewer takes on the world’s view as Frank as her interacts with his environment. Maniac also doesn’t at any time shy away from the bloodshed. For the gorehounds out there, this film will not disappoint.
I honestly found 2012’s Maniac to be better than the original and that’s not something that comes easy. I normally shun any remake as blasphemous due to the original material being fine as it is. Maniac was a film that could have remained untouched and remained the the annals of Grindhouse history but thanks to Franck Khalfoun and the performance by Elijah Wood, this film is worth while viewing.
Please don’t scream…I’m trying to watch the movie
The self proclaimed King of Horror Andrew Guthlein