Maniac (2012)

Posted: May 8, 2013 in Movie Review
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Maniac 2012Directed By: Franck Khalfoun

Starring: Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, Jan Broberg, Liane Balaban, America Olivo, Megan Duffy, Morgane Slemp

Subgenre: Slasher, Serial Killer

Synopsis: Frank Zito, a mentally unbalanced mannequin restorer, stalks women in LA looking for the perfect mate and replacement to his mother.

Thoughts: Maniac wasn’t my most anticipated movie of the New Year, but it was surely one that I was looking forward to seeing.  I was very intrigued to see how Elijah Wood channeled Frank Zito, who was originally portrayed by Joe Spinell in William Lustig’s disturbing 1980 original.  I was lucky enough to catch a screening at Texas Frightmare Weekend.

Elijah Wood was a pleasant surprise in his role, bucking his good guy persona for a twisted killer with mommy issues.  His nonsensical and ill-timed mutterings really sold him as someone that had lost touch with reality.  While Wood was the anchor of the movie, he was surrounded by a great supporting cast, especially Nora Arnezeder who plays Anna, the primary target of Zito’s affections.

Director Franck Khalfoun may not be a well-known name in the horror genre, but his collaborator Alexandre Aja certainly is.  Aja produced P2, Khalfoun’s earlier film, as well as the Maniac remake.  Aja’s career has been hit or miss, but mostly hits for me.  I loved High Tension and the Piranha and Hills Have Eyes remakes, but can’t argue that Mirrors was a missed opportunity.  Being the writer and producer on Maniac makes me believe that Aja is ready to deliver another great movie and I’m holding out hopes for Horns to be awesome.  Khalfoun certainly seems to be a protégé of Aja, as his work behind the camera really resembles Aja’s, although I don’t see the same flair that Aja has.

Maniac is a very powerful movie. It is extremely well made and very graphic at times, but it really transgresses a horror movie. The last time I watched a horror movie with this much impact was Martyrs.  Maniac is very much a dictation on Nature vs. Nurture, and puts on display just how Frank became as twisted as he is.  The movie is filmed from Frank’s perspective, which is fairly unique and also works very well for the movie.  On top of the first person perspective, Frank’s image is displayed through the use mirrors and other reflective surfaces, which makes for some very unique images.

I really can’t recommend Maniac enough.  I think it is one of the better remakes to come out in recent years.  I think if it weren’t for the very graphic nature of the movie, it very well could have garnered some award recognition, but we all know Hollywood is a little too queasy for that.  If you get a chance to see this, make the effort and attend.  It’s very well done and deserves your support.


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