Warning: Not for those with a weak tolerance for blood and misogyny. Women everywhere who aren’t desensitized by the horror genre will likely be offended by this film. So of course, that means that the 2013 remake of Maniac is right up my alley.
Shot entirely in first person point of view, this is sure to be the most perverse acting of Elijah Wood’s career, and possibly his biggest challenge since we know and love him as the porcelain skinned hobbit, Frodo Baggins. It can be really difficult for actors to break away from iconic roles, but Wood definitely proves that he is more than just the character who made his career. The first person perspective is actually quite taking, although at first it might leave you wondering why Frank (Wood) is holding a camera, if you’ve been tainted by the habits cultivated by watching found footage cinema. The only time we see Frank is whenever he can see his own reflection, and of course it is those scenes that offer the big gory payoffs. And when I say big gory payoffs, I mean really big. There will be no cutaway shots or cheap CGI to save your eyes from how Frank kills his victims. Even yours truly was left maw agape. Whether it be a trashy mirror hanging over a bed, or a large apartment window, it is in these reflections that we are able to see Frank for what he really is: heinous. Whenever we see through Frank’s eyes, however; the results are quite heartbreaking, as he is an individual who constantly struggles to keep his murderous desires under control. Not that this justifies his actions of course, but we are provided some source for empathy. You can probably guess the root of Frank’s woman-scalping ways; he has mommy issues. Don’t all of cinema’s greatest murderers?
Basically, if you are sick of floating heads horror, and cheap tactics like jump scares and predictable deaths; this is your film. Maniac builds at an effective pace, employs some of the most effective cinematography I’ve seen in today’s horror, and pays off big with the blood shots. And watch out for that ending. (spoiler alert) You will find that the predictability of Frank’s demise is completely outshined by a bold symbolic choice from director Franck Kahlfoun. Five knifey stars.