’31 Days of Horror’ Review – Maniac (2012)

Frodo’s Gone Homicidal in ‘MANIAC’

by Nile Fortner

A socially awkward serial killer (Elijah Wood) removes the scalps’ of women and attaches them to his mannequins, to bring a new life to them.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Last House on the Left, The Amityville Horror, Cabin Fever, and The Wicker Man are all classic horror films. On the other hand, I believe these classic horror films have not been remade into classic remakes. Many remakes fail to capture the energy, wisdom, and likeness of the original. It is very difficult to capture lightning in a bottle twice, especially with horror movies. Many directors, producers, and writers of horror all tend to follow the same format, and end up being predictable, bland, and lifeless nowadays. However, director Franck Khalfoun (‘P2’ and ‘High Tension’) brings some new life into a cult classic, a new direction, and in my opinion a better film. I believe that Maniac (2012) is a rare exception of the remake actually being better than the original.

Much like the 1980 cult classic, Elijah Wood (‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Goodson’) plays Frank. Frank is socially awkward, and a vicious serial killer. Frank collects the scalps’ of his victims, and puts the finishing touches on his mannequins. One day he meets a beautiful, artistic woman, named Anna, played by Nora Arnezeder (‘Safe House’). The two bond, and everything seems to be going well at first….

Deranged Momma’s Boy?

Elijah Wood may be short, and doesn’t seem all that threatening. But he really does a fantastic job as the character Frank. Elijah Wood brings a new take on Frank that we didn’t see in the original. For example, in the remake we get more of an understanding and back-story (his childhood with his mother). The original was more of a typical slasher, violent guy, and killer with messy hair, etc. But Elijah Wood is a very normal looking guy, and I think that adds to the film. We almost feel sympathy towards him, such as everything from his childhood, and how people treat him.

I honestly believe this is the best film by Franck Khalfoun and is one of my favorite directors. He really brings a new artistic take on a very good cult classic. Even though he changes a few things from the original, he stays true to the spirit, and original source material. For instance, the violence in this film will make you squeal and cringe. I’ve seen violent horror flicks, and I’m no stranger to a couple buckets of blood. Nevertheless, this is one of the few films I’ve seen where the violence is used to enhance tension, and make viewers uncomfortable. I haven’t seen violence this cringe worthy since the eye gouging eyeball scene from the first ‘Hostel’ movie.

 

Inside the Killer’s World

Also, this film has some of the best cinematography and camera scenes I’ve seen in a very long time. Every shot was gorgeous and unique. The point-of-view throughout a majority of the film I thought was very well done, and it truly does add to the movie. The viewer is literally gets to go inside the killers world, and become a part of this character, both physically and mentally. It adds an extra layer of darkness and intensity. Franck Khalfoun uses the POV format well, with some beautifully choreographed scenes, which at times has the flow of a near perfection dance, with each component moving in sync with the other. Franck Khalfoun’s forcing the viewer to see the world through Frank’s eyes, it almost generates sympathy for the scrawny, raving loony. It’s the most uncomfortable element of this stylish horror show.  Maniac could be considered as having the same style as another movie called Drive starring Ryan Gosling. They both use bright colors, the shots of the cityscapes of a bustling city, as well as a pumping, electronic/synth music.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I fucking love this movie! This really is one of my favorite horror films, and one of my favorite films in general. It’s unique, gory for a reason, the character development is good, and the cinematography/camera shots are something we don’t usually see today. In my opinion, this is a blueprint on how to do a remake. Also, this would make a great double feature showdown. View the 1980 original, and this one back to back. 

I am giving Maniac (2012) a 5 out of 5 Hairpieces!

 

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