Monday, October 28, 2013

Film Review: Maniac (2012)

Maniac (Review)
France/United States/2012
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...graphic and cringe-worthy..."

Frank Zito (Elijah Wood) is a disturbed young man -- haunted by the memories of his now-deceased prostitute mother -- running a mannequin restoration business. Between his serial killing, Frank runs into Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a young photographer interested in mannequins, and he agrees to help her with her upcoming exhibition.

Maniac is a vicious remake of an 80s slasher of the same name and premise. The story continues to follow Frank as he tries to develop a relationship with Anna. But, his lust for blood and acceptance has him using his free time to stalk and scalp his helpless victims. Basically, the story follows a simple yet captivating formula: at night, Frank stalks and kills; during the day, Frank tries to spend time with Anna. On top of that, Frank suffers from "migraines," or better, some uncomfortable hallucinations. The ending is devastating; however, it did feel like it didn't know when to stop, it kinda went on and on.

Maniac uses a unique perspective to bring us into the shoes of Frank Zito; in fact, most of the time, we quite literally see what he sees as it is shot in his perspective. I really enjoyed this style as it brought us into Frank's mind, and complimented his psyhcological issues, as well. The horror consists of a creepy antagonist, brutal and disturbing violence, and great suspense. First, Frank Zito is a fantastic antihero, someone you can connect to but hate at the same time; Elijah Wood performs well, delivering creepy dialogue in a chilling tone. The violence is graphic and cringe-worthy; brutal stabbings, bloody scalpings, disturbingly realistic asphyxiations, and so on. On top of all of this, there is plenty of suspense leading up to the inevitable kills.

Elijah Wood is superb as the lead; he perfectly embodies a mentally ill serial killer -- a genuinely creepy, unforgettable performance. Nora Arnezeder compliments his performance, capturing an ambitious artist and a real feeling of terror. My only complaint with the acting comes from some of the victims, they occasionally lacked the feeling of being petrified; some of their shouting felt forced and unnatural, but everything else was tolerable and enjoyable. The cinematography is great, the POV style is effectively used. The music is fantastic, it has a "Drive"-vibe, but much more ominous. Franck Khalfoun direction is great, I look forward to seeing more from him.

Overall, Maniac is a superb, impacting horror film; the graphic visuals of violence are unforgettable, the POV perspective and psyhcological aspects compliment each other well, and Elijah Wood is a brilliant creeper. This is one of the rare horror remakes that surpass the original. I highly recommend for those they can stand excessive violence.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, sex and nudity.

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