Saturday, October 12, 2013

Maniac (2012)

Maniac (France/USA, 2012) - Color, Director(s): Franck Khalfoun
MPAA Rating: NR
[UK: 18]
Approx. 89 min.

Z-rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 0 stars out of 5

Maniac is remake of a 1980 slasher by the same name, about a guy who could pass for Ron Jeremy's stunt double murdering women and nailing their scalps onto mannequins. What made the film really creepy and effective was the fact that you heard the actor's (Joe Spinell) voice talking whenever he was alone in his room. Almost like you can hear what's going through his head as he brushes and strokes his lifeless mannequins. You get the feeling that you're right there with him during his descent into madness. Coupled with special effects by Tom Savini, the original is one of the most underrated slashers of all time! So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that they were actually going to remake this awesome movie... with Elijah Wood?

Everyone's seen him in Lord of the Rings and I really liked him in Green Street Hooligans, but how was he going to fair as a serial killer? He did play a hooker-slaying cannibal in Sin City, so I guess that should've tipped me off but I wasn't so sure about him going into this movie. The original is underrated enough, it didn't need a bad remake to further bury it into obscurity. Well, I'm happy to say that this is an EXCELLENT movie and everything that a remake should be. Taking the original concept and putting a new twist on it, the entire movie is shown from a first-person perspective. Instead of just hearing his thoughts, you're actually in his shoes this time. Elijah Wood plays Frank, a guy that restores mannequins and occasionally moonlights as a serial killer. Following the same M.O. as the original, he scalps his victims then staples it to a mannequin when he gets home. He meets a photographer named Anna who is interested in working with his mannequins, so they collaborate on a project together. With all the time they're spending together, he really starts to fall for her. But will his homicidal tendencies ruin his chance at a real relationship?

This remake is actually a really faithful adaptation of the original. Sometimes remakes will make small references to the source material but will completely overhaul the story. I liked that this stuck close to the original story but still updated it. From the killer's perspective, we watch as he stalks women and kills them. We see the mannequins in his room come to life and talk to him. We do more than observe as a bystander, we ARE the killer in this movie. Not until the very end do we see an outside perspective.

This movie makes you feel like a creeper...

Nudity: We get a couple shots of topless women. There are also a couple scenes where people are having sex but nothing explicitly shown.

Gore: I'm pretty sure everyone knows what to expect here. Although this isn't an all-out gorefest, it shows him violently murdering people (usually by stabbing with a BFK), then scalping the women that he likes. Pretty graphic stuff, 5 out of 5 stars.

Awesome: to the MAX!!! There's always an uproar when a remake or reboot is announced but this is definitely one of the good ones. There are subtle details in this movie that really make it great, like him constantly having to spray the flies buzzing around the rotting scalps. Also, how his knuckles are raw from scrubbing with steel wool. What that says about his personality, even though he murders people and sleeps with rotting pieces of flesh. This is an all around fantastic horror movie and will be an excellent crowd pleaser at a Halloween party.