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Maniac (2012) Review

by Yo Adrian on September 14th, 2019 | | , ,

Maniac was directed by Franck Khalfoun (who also directed Prey and P2) and stars Elijah Wood (from Cooties, The Faculty), America Olivo (from No One Lives, Circle) and Jan Broberg (from At The Devil’s Door). It’s about a guy named Frank who likes to kill women, scalp them and then staple their hair to mannequins who later morph into his girlfriends (in his own demented mind of course).

I Warned You Not to Go Out Tonight.

Maniac Review

Maniac is a reboot of the original Maniac from 1980, a legendary slasher about a schizophrenic serial killer who uses the scalps of his victims to turn creepy mannequins into effigies. This Maniac, unlike that Maniac, takes an entirely unique approach to horror cinema by creating a first person point of view to effectively put the viewer in the killers shoes. This approach not only makes you almost feel complicit in his kills, but helps to convey how he doesn’t feel in control over his actions. The only time you see Franks face is when he sees himself in various reflections, watching himself kill in this way is an effective way of showing how he’s not in his own drivers seat. And being a schizophrenic who is driven to kill by an alter personality really helps to create a weird sense of empathy that you normally wouldn’t have for a guy who kills innocent people.

This reboot has a unusually voyeuristic vibe. It’s first person, so you see what the killer sees. And the killer spends most of his time just driving around NYC searching for victims. So a good part of the runtime is just watching other people go about their day, wondering who the next victim will be. And at times, once Frank picks his mark, you even get a front row seat into the victims apartment as Frank sneaks around, just watching and waiting for the right time to pounce.

There’s a couple of great horror movie references in Maniac which I really liked, namely Silence of the Lambs and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the latter being an especially creative reference.

Elijah Wood who plays serial killer Frank Zito nails the role, but from a casting perspective was an unexpected choice. The original Frank really looked like a Frank, Elijah not so much.

Overall this remake was a fun watch, although I have to admit took me a couple of days to warm up to. It’s an arthouse style horror that allowed for endless creative expression. Not all of the creative aspects landed with me, but after a couple of days most did. It’s definitely not a casual popcorn horror to be left running in the background.

Worth Watching?

Hard to say really, it’s not your typical horror movie. It’s very artsy, has a lot of room for interpretation and the acting doesn’t always feel natural considering the majority of characters are just talking straight into the camera with no other interaction from others (it’s like watching audition tapes). This created a strange kind of flat one dimensional feel that might take some time to get used to. Aside from that it’s a powerful story that delivers a healthy dose of blood and gore, gore that’s uncomfortably realistic at times. The sound effects alone can be disturbing.


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