Monday, April 1, 2013

MANIAC (2012) movie review

Maniac (2012) d. Khalfoun, Franck (USA)

Like many, I utterly rejected the notion that a worthy update could be made of William Lustig’s skeevy 1980 slasher, especially since the original – while an undisputed classic – isn’t really that great of a film, surviving primarily on Joe Spinell’s go-for-broke central turn and makeup maestro Tom Savini’s lunch-buckling effects. Minus those time capsule elements set within a pre-Disneyfied Times Square backdrop, a direct remake seemed pointless. But as positive buzz arose from its various festival screenings, I began to grow cautiously optimistic. The truth is that it’s neither the train wreck that it could have been nor the instant classic that had been proclaimed, but rather a competent reworking that lives somewhere in the slightly-better-than-average arena.

Elijah Wood shakes off all semblances of Hobbiton as a (doggedly) twitchy mannequin maker who spends his free time skulking about chat rooms or dark alleys in order to meet fresh meat, taking their scalps home to cry over. Nora Arnezeder inherits Caroline Munro’s camera straps as a photographer who might be able to reach our twisted protagonist, but who would be better advised to point her lens the other way and run. Khalfoun’s decision to shoot everything from Wood’s POV is interesting but ultimately superfluous, especially when the director breaks the convention to float above his subject without any particular rhyme or reason. The gore is undeniably well-done, and producer Alexandre Aja recruits longtime cinematographer Maxime Alexandre to carry out the challenging camerawork. Bottom line, it’s about as good as a Maniac remake could be, for whatever that might be worth.


  1. I started to get my hopes up ever so slightly for this one when I saw how enthusiastic a horror fan Elijah Wood was when he popped up in Nightmare Factory, the okay documentary about KNB EFX Group.

    1. I think "ever so slightly" is about where your hopes should be. It's pretty good, just not surprisingly good.