BY GAV ELLINGER.
Being a huge fan of the original 1980 slasher flick Maniac directed by William Lustig and the fabulous performance in said movie by the great Joe Spinell as the disturbed lead Frank Zito it was with intrepidation that I settled down to watching this remake not quite sure what to expect or what I would think of a remake starring Elijah Wood (of Lord of the Rings fame) and of his abilities of portraying a deranged psychopath on the edge.
The film opens with Frank (Elijah) following a girl and as she is about to enter her apartment she is pinned against the door as we witness a knife thrust up through her throat, the tip appearing in her open screaming mouth. This is fairly effective although very cgi and Tom Savini it is not. However a later scene of a guy getting a meat cleaver embedded in his face looks superb and is definitely one of the special effects highlights of the movie.
Filmed from a voyeuristic point of view, in first person perspective was an interesting idea unlike the original which takes a more traditional format, although the premise of the film is similar. Throughout the movie we see what Frank sees through the camera lense, essentially the viewer becomes the murderer, as he stalks his victims, only catching glimpses of his reflection in mirrors and his hands commiting his crimes. This style was refreshingly unsettling however at times I felt like I was playing the Playstation game Dead Island. Although Elijah gives an acceptable performance, given the fact that we rarely see him throughout the movie, only hearing his voice, I cant help thinking that he didn’t particularly have much to do! We see him popping pills infront of the mirror and having paranoid delusions in the form of flashbacks from his childhood after witnessing his uncaring mother snorting cocaine and having sex with random strangers, and this explains his violent actions.
Frank owns a mannequin shop and his favourite pastime is stapling the scalps of his victims onto the mannequins and surrounding himself with them in his bedroom as he talks to them and imagines them coming back to life.
Frank for the most part is a loner, his only interests involve talking to potential victims via the internet and conversing with his mannequins. This is until he meets Anna, a photographer, played by French actress Nora Arnezeder, who shows an interest in his shop and asks to rent some mannequins for her upcoming photographic exhibition. Frank forms a friendship with Anna after agreeing to this and is subsequently invited to the event. The character of Anna was originally played by the British actress Caroline Munro (who I had the pleasure of meeting).
Directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2) and with screenplay by Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance, The Hills Have Eyes remake), there is enough gory violence and gratuitous nudity, twinned with a nice retro soundtrack to please most people, and horror fans who have not seen the original Maniac will probably love this movie, but for me it was a rather mediocre affair and I was left with a feeling of disappointment. I’m not quite sure why there was a need to remake this but in this age of Hollywood remakes of classic 80’s slashers i’m not at all suprised. Has Hollywood run out of original ideas, surely not? I am now awaiting a remake of The Burning, or perhaps Visiting Hours? I’m sure Mr. Aja is writing the script as we speak!
See the trailer here: