“Maniac” is a slasher/psychological thriller based on the 1980 cult classic of the same name. Shot almost entirely from a first-person point of view, the movie cleverly places the viewer in the shoes of a serial killer. Unfortunately, with every glance in the mirror we’re reminded that Elijah Wood is said serial killer, and it gets harder and harder to take the movie seriously.
The movie itself is above average in almost every other respect. Coupled with the POV shots, the low-fi, synth-heavy, Goblin-inspired soundtrack exudes the feeling of an ’80s slasher flick. However, the chic cinematography and overall nightlife atmosphere brings the film forward into the present day. Visually, it’s a beautifully put-together movie. Conceptually, it’s unique and refreshing despite being a remake. Alas, the constant reminder that Elijah “Flipper” Wood is the one scalping young women remains a poor casting choice at best, but the film manages to shine brightly in spite of that.
The plot is your standard slasher fare. Serial killer Frank Zito is a disturbed young man with mommy issues who scalps women to adorn his slew of vintage mannequins. Murdering nearly every woman who grows close to him, Frank eventually finds his match in artist Anna D’Antoni, of whom he quickly grows fond. Things eventually spiral out of control when Frank murders Anna’s mother and gets caught when he reveals too much information involving her death.
The climax involves Frank attempting to make Anna his scalped mannequin bride and Anna trying to elude such a fate. The final sequence eventually sputters to a sporadic halt, ending with a blood-soaked hallucination scene. As fast paced as the movie starts, it seems to lose steam in the final 10 minutes, resulting in a satisfying ride with an anti-climactic finale.
The Blu-ray release of “Maniac” includes your basic extras. There’s a “making of” documentary, a commentary featuring Wood and director Franck Khalfoun and a handful of deleted scenes.
Despite the oddly harebrained ending, “Maniac” is a surprisingly well-executed remake. The 1980 version is a classic in its own right, but if you can look past the Elijah Wood factor, there’s plenty of thrills to be had here as well.
Film: 3 Yaps
Extras: 3.5 Yaps