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STUDIO MPI HOME VIDEO/IFC Midnight
RUNNING TIME 89 Minutes
- The Making of Maniac Documentary
- Commentary with Elijiah Wood, Franck Khalfoun, and Alix Taylor
- Deleted Scenes
- Poster Gallery
See through the eyes of a madman as he scalps women and then staples their hair to mannequins!
Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, Genevieve Alexandria, Jan Broberg, Megan Duffy, Liane Balaban, Joshua De La Garza, America Olivo, Sammi Rotibi
In this remake of the 1980 film of the same title, Frank (Elijah Wood) is a creepy guy who owns an even-creepier mannequin shop. At night, he goes out and hunts down attractive women, scalping them and then bringing their hair back to his shop to staple to mannequins that he treats like living girls. One day, a young artist named Anna comes into his shop and asks for his help with her art exhibition on mannequins. Can Anna save Frank from himself?
Maniac is a strange little film that is more disturbing than it is actually scary. The majority of the movie is shot in Point-of-View (POV), so the only viewpoint we get is that of Frank. This is extremely limiting to the cinematography and narrative of the film, but in this instance, it works. Being inside of Frank’s head is one hell of a trip. By seeing things the way Frank sees them, it forces the viewer to form a bond with the serial killer and (almost) long for his redemption. It is an interesting experiment in filmmaking, as the POV is immersive in a way that few kinds of entertainment art. This first-person style of narrative is reminiscent of video games and gives a layer of depth to what is otherwise a standard slasher flick.
The only time the camera leaves Frank’s brain is when he kills someone. The viewer is then given a sort of “out of body” experience as Frank kills his victims and rides the high of the aftermath. While it makes sense conceptually, leaving the POV perspective really takes the viewer out of the experience. This is Frank’s story, and it needs to be viewed entirely from within him. The one major downside to this is that Elijah Wood becomes terribly underutilized. He is charming one moment and creepy the next, giving his serial killer the kind of charisma that Ted Bundy or Hannibal Lecter have. Most of Wood’s performance is vocal, though there are some fantastic shots that allow the viewer to see him in reflections.
The plot is thin, but since the original had almost no plot at all, it’s an improvement. Wood’s Frank is a much more relatable character than Joe Spinell’s Frank from the 1980 Maniac. Wood’s Frank is somewhat sympathetic, a tortured soul with a horrible childhood who just wants to capture the women he appreciates for eternity. Spinell’s Frank was a ferocious monster who really looked the part of serial murderer – it’s some kind of bizarre miracle that he managed to get women close to him at all.
So where does Maniac stand compared to the original? The original movie is definitely scarier because Spinell is absolutely unhinged. Besides that, by being in Frank’s POV in the remake, the viewer always knows where the killer is and any surprise scares are automatically ruined. On the upside, the remake makes the viewer care a bit more, is stylistically sharper, and is much gorier. It should be noted that the special effects in this film are fantastic and truly disgusting.
2013’s Maniac is a fun psychological thriller with stylish cinematography, good performances, and Elijah Wood at his creepiest. It’s not as gritty or grimy as the original, but maybe that’s a good thing.
The Making of Maniac Documentary is a full-length documentary about the creation of the film. Interviews and behind-the-scenes footage really give insight into why the filmmakers made specific choices with the film. Elijah Wood is in the documentary almost constantly and behaves like a kid in a candy store – he clearly loved making this movie. The documentary has a little bit of something for everyone, from cinematography geeks to special effects gorehounds. It’s a genuinely good added feature, but should be watched after the film because it gives away spoilers.
There are a handful of deleted scenes and a commentary with the director, Elijah Wood, and the executive producer. The poster gallery has some really great images, and there is a trailer for the film.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars