Maniac (2012) Review
Dir. Franck Khalfoun – 89 Minutes
Starring Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, Megan Duffy, America Olivo.
Maniac was released in 1980 starring the late Joe Spinell and directed by William Lustig . It was an intense , violent and filthy film that depicted New York in the late 1970′s perfectly. In a city that had recently suffered the Son of Sam murders and had a violent reputation unsurpassed in America , Maniac caught that latent fear and violence perfectly.
So when I heard of this remake featuring Elijah Wood as the main character I was sceptical to say the least. Joe Spinell who played the original *Maniac* was a big bruising hulk of a man , and now New York is far removed from that period.
Maniac is a visually stunning film , the original was a grim, dirty affair whereas now it is bright with a beautiful neon haze that tranfers the story to a modern LA. The score (simply by Rob) is wonderful , a beautiful dose of electronica that sets the mood perfectly , it is subtle and almost understated yet builds a feeling of unease and dread.
Maniac uses the POV (point of view) of Frank throughout so you see very little of Frank (unless he passes a mirror or window) , but what it gives the viewer is the sense of being Frank. Wood is superb , he is a twitchy, awkward man full of OCD and suffering from flashbacks of his Mother who appears to be a drug addict prostitute . When he tries to build even the most basic relationship he breaks down with crippling migraines and has to fight to keep the monster at bay.
There are scenes in Maniac that are truly horrific , that will have viewers squirming and feeling very uncomfortable. And Woods has made a very brave choice here, not just to star in a remake of a classic genre film but also to attempt to throw off the shackles of Frodo by playing such a wonderfully psychotic role.
Now I know I haven’t really mentioned much regarding the synopsis or even the vaguest storylines , and I won’t. That is because you need to watch this with a relatively blank canvass and let Maniac paint it’s wonderful bright , vivid, bloody and beautiful picture.
A triumph that made me sit bolt upright almost throughout just staring in wonder as the story unfolded on the big screen. A very bold remake that for me surpasses the original and makes the story it’s own rather than just a frame by frame copy.
It brings the story into the 21st century and doesn’t hold back on the kills and violence, plus using the POV makes you feel a part of Franks rapid fall into psychotic mania and you may need to scrub your dirty hands afterwards.
One of the finest individual performances I have seen and wrapped in a fantastic film.
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