Horror Remake - Starring Elijah Wood, America Olivo, Nora Arnezeder. Screenplay by Alexandre Aja, Gregory Levasseur, C.A. Rosenberg. Original Story & Screenplay by Joe Spinell. Directed by Frank Khalfoun (2012)
Maniac is a remake of a notorious 1980's 'video nasty' that boasts some interesting ideas or gimmicks depending on your view. The original followed deranged serial killer Frank Zito as he kills and scalps young women, lovely!
The remake is shot almost entirely from the point of view (POV) of Frank, now played by a Hobbit! Yes, casting Elijah Wood in this on the face of it seems odd when you think of the Lord of the Rings films but he has already pulled off a believable psychopath with aplomb in Sin City, so maybe not such an unlikely choice. It is a choice which broadly pays off, as I will come to later.
This is an impressive change in tone from the original for what superficially is such a brutal and uncompromising film, which brings me quite neatly on to the gore and effects. It is one of the most visceral mainstream films for a very long time and looks very convincing throughout. Scalps are removed and blood is let at regular intervals as the film builds to it's predictably bloody climax. The fact that this is shot through Franks POV enables us the feel uncomfortably close to the action. The director, Franck Khalfoun also edits the film and you get the impression he wanted the viewer to feel a little guiltily voyeuristic watching some of the drawn out violence.
Maniac stands up well against any recent mainstream horror and is a more layered and thoughtful piece of work than the rather blunt original. Wood proves again he is now a long way from Hobbiton and Franck Khalfoun will now firmly be on my watch list. Despite my minor misgivings about Khalfouns failure to go 100% POV there is a lot to be impressed by with Maniac.
Rating 4 out of 5
By Dave Wheeler