Maniac

Maniac

48%
  • Unrated, 1 hr. 29 min.
  • Horror
  • Directed By:
    Franck Khalfoun
    In Theaters:
    Jun 21, 2013 Limited
    On DVD:
    Oct 15, 2013
  • IFC Midnight
  • Maniac
    2 minutes 9 seconds
    Added: May 23, 2013

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Maniac Reviews

Page 1 of 30
Edward B

Super Reviewer

March 30, 2014
A depraved, disturbing, and uncompromising slasher that boasts amazing technical craftsmanship, forcing you to follow the kind of character you fear your sister or daughter would meet. Strictly for fans of extreme horror.
The Gandiman
The Gandiman

Super Reviewer

February 10, 2014
More of a gory art experiment than a coherent movie, "Maniac" is watchable (when you're not squirming away from the gore) but ultimately uninteresting and unstimulating. Instead of an interesting take on serial murder and the mental illness that causes it, "Maniac" is just a filmmaker's attempt to showboat gory art.

Elijah Wood is an interesting casting choice that is ultimately fumbled. By shooting the film in 1st person perspective, Wood isn't allowed to show how he's matching the character's torment. The victims could have been running away from anybody with a knife, his presence isn't used to effectively convey his menace other than his penchant for angry mutilation.

"Maniac" is a remake of the 1981 cult classic slasher flick. That version used its low guerilla-style filming to add to the subject matter's depravity. 2013 moves the action from New York to Los Angeles and that move seems to hurt the film as well. NY's 1981 grittiness really helps to add to the believability of the menace, LA 2013, on the other hand, seems a bit fictional and forced.

"Maniac" is undeniably gory, but ultimately it's undeniably pointless.
blkbomb
blkbomb

Super Reviewer

October 27, 2013
Frank: Please don't scream. You're beautiful.

"I warned you not to go out tonight"

Maniac is undoubtedly a very interesting and well made psychological horror/slasher. I haven't had the pleasure of seeing the original, so I can't talk about this as it compares to the original. All I can really say is that despite the fact that this was shot well and had very interesting psychological sequences(especially the ending); I just didn't like it that much. The movie was disturbing and gross, which works with some movies and doesn't work with others. For me, it didn't work here. I could always see Elijah Wood playing a creepy guy like this, but his performance was a little too much. It's just too weird for me I guess.

Frank is the title maniac, and he no doubt embodies the essence of that word. He's a voyeur, a lunatic, and a killer. He stalks and kills young, beautiful women because of sick childhood memories of his mother. He also scalps all the bodies and uses them for his mannequins. When a beautiful, French artist asks for his help with her new exhibit, his maniac-ness goes to another level.

This movie has that authentic feel of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. It just feels so real life and the camera views from Frank's point of view make it feel like the viewer is the maniac. It's all very unsettling and disturbing, which should have left me feeling satisfied. In the end, though, something was just missing. I don't know if it was with Wood's performance or with the lack of true believability that came from the supporting cast, but something just didn't sit right with me.

Maniac is worth a look and it definitely makes me want to give the original a look, as the story and character is very interesting. I may not have liked the movie very much, but I can't say it's bad. In fact, it's one of the more technically well made horror films I've seen in recent years. It's just too bad it couldn't win me over in the end.
Everett J

Super Reviewer

June 26, 2013
**1/2

"Maniac" is a remake of an 80's horror movie about a mannequin shop owner(Elijah Wood) who collects the scalps of women and puts them on his mannequins. I don't think I've ever seen the original, so I can't say if this is better or not. But, it doesn't really make me care to go back and check it out. The gore and violence is pretty good, and Wood does a good job. But the film is a little too slow. I've heard it being compared to "Drive" quite a bit and I can see that. The soundtrack is very similar(80's electronic type pop music) and most of the movie is from Wood's perspective in a car. But it just moves slow, and has some very weird scenes when he is alone. "Drive" has a few great moments with amazing acting. Here it doesn't really have that to fall back on, so it stays in a mediocre area of movies. The ending is pretty head scratching as well(although it looks awesome!). Not the best horror movie of the summer("Aftershock" is my fav so far), but it's worth a watch if you have a strong stomach. Definitely original and different from a lot of other horror movies, and that's something that doesn't happen often in this genre.
Kevin C

Super Reviewer

June 23, 2013
Same critical flaw as the original: there's no point.
Liam G

Super Reviewer

June 23, 2013
The pacing is off at times and the story becomes rather repetitive, but ''Maniac'' is mostly successful in taking the original film and making it fresh and stylish.
TheDudeLebowski65
TheDudeLebowski65

Super Reviewer

April 28, 2013
The remake of the 1980 Exploitation slasher classic is a pretty good little flick that is riveting and thrilling. This film, like the original before it, doesn't shy away from the graphic kills, which may appeal to genre fans looking for something grotesque to watch. Elijah Wood steps into the role of Frank Zito, and he is quite good in his performance. I felt that he was able to deliver a performance that matched that of Joe Spinell, but managed to do something quite different as well. The film is one of the better remakes that have come out in recent times, and at times, remakes are quite good, and Maniac proves that. This is a disturbing horror yarn that will certainly leave its mark. Wood gives a bone chilling performance, on e that does stand out, and it makes it one of the strongest aspects of the film. There is really nothing new added to the formula, as this one covers similar ground than the original. This is truly one of the most depraved and deranged films in the genre and Elijah Wood really convinces you that he is crazy and disturb. This is a stunning remake, and one that doesn't tarnish the legacy of the original. The performances are good as well, considering that this is a picture that is pretty basic in its story. Genre fans will most likely love this one, and you can appreciate the fact that, it is in many ways, a much darker and atmospheric film than the original. Director Franck Khalfoun gets into the mind of a killer, and it is a terrifying and shocking journey from start to finish. The movie works well enough to keep you hooked from the first frame onwards, and even if you don't like it, it will definitely have an impact on you. As a fan of the William Lustig's original, I was pleasantly surprised by how good this movie was. This remake is worth checking out if you love these types of horror flicks. Not a perfect remake, but better than some recent ones.
dietmountaindew
dietmountaindew

Super Reviewer

April 11, 2013
peeping tom + the collector
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

January 13, 2013
This brilliant film is certainly not for everybody's stomach. It is a very brutal, tense and intensely disturbing experience that forces us to adopt the perspective of a maniac psycho killer - using an ingenious subjective camera to put us right there inside his deranged state of mind.
Cinema-Maniac
Cinema-Maniac

Super Reviewer

May 4, 2013
Maniac is about the owner of a mannequin shop developing a dangerous obsession with a young artist. The plot sounds unusual and remains that way. We're constantly in the head of our "Maniac" (not being me) seeing things from his perspectives at all times. A good thing for the plot since expanding on the vague character development early makes us keen to follow. It has a nice contrast to the killer coming off as charming, pathetic, and distasteful. A more thought provoking take for how we should feel for the central character we follow unlike the usual slasher film killer. Though it's very clear when we meet new characters to tell who's just going to end up on the body count. It works as a horror and character study which unlike many recent horror flicks can't even juggle being one thing.

Entirely told in POV photography is unconventional in cinema in general. This POV perspectives works and fails in some respects. It works since we see from up close the gruesome killings made all the harder to stomach thanks to some fantastic particle effects. Giving us a dynamic look on how our central character does things mentally and physically. The performances are visible from the supporting cast who sell their part including the obvious victims. The negative being it's entirely in POV. We only Elijah Wood when any glass reflective object is around therefore making it difficult to take Wood serious as an actor. As a viewer we vocally hear how he feels but never see. It adds to the mystery of the character, but takes away the opportunity to see Wood in an unprecedented role. Then is the case we do see Wood driving, going to a store, stalking, running, and mundane activity. Immersible no less though it could also be seen as filler to expand the runtime to be more than an hour.

Maniac in the end is an unconventional slasher film that is smart and gruesome. While the whole first person perspective doesn't always work it gives the film a unique look of its own. Visually striking and being to see everything unfolding as the character does makes an authentic journey in the mind of killer.
themoviewaffler.com
themoviewaffler.com

Super Reviewer

March 20, 2013
Frank (Wood) has some serious Mommy issues, having been subjected, as a child, to the sight of his prostitute mother (Olivo) plying her trade in front of his impressionable young eyes. Now, as an adult, he's taken over the family business, restoring mannequins. In the evenings however, he become L.A's most notorious serial killer, stalking women and murdering them for their scalps. Upon returning home, he attaches these newly acquired hairpieces to the mannequins in his bedroom, which he imagines are real live women who taunt him. When a kooky French photographer (Arnezeder) shows an interest in his mannequin restoring skills, he falls for her but finds his murderous impulses returning.
William Lustig's 1980 original is one of the more respected of the countless eighties slashers. When it was announced that Wood was to play the role so well performed by Joe Spinell in the original, much mocking laughter was heard from the slasher faithful. Casting someone like Wood makes perfect sense however. The biggest issue of the original is that Spinell is so downright sleazy and creepy looking that it's inconceivable that someone like Caroline Munro would have gone within twenty feet of him, let alone befriend the schlub. Because Wood looks non-threatening, the relationship, here with French actress Arnezeder, is a lot easier to swallow. This relationship turns out to be the remake's greatest strength, mainly due to Arnezeder's performance. She's appeared a lot in thankless roles but, on the strength of her turn here, I suspect we'll be seeing big things from her.

Khalfoun makes the choice to shoot his remake almost entirely from the POV of Frank, ala Robert Montgomery's 'Lady in the Lake', pulling back to reveal Wood in key moments, usually murder scenes. This becomes tiresome after a while, chiefly because the camera behaves at times in a manner that the human eye can't (zooms and cuts, for example). The cinematography of Maxime Alexandre and the synth score from 'Rob' capture the feel and mood of eighties low budget horror but there is one key element missing which made the original so creepy: eighties New York. Back in the late seventies and early eighties, the city was the personification of urban hell and movies shot during this period were automatically lent an extra air of menace. Nowadays the Big Apple resembles a kid's theme park so Khalfoun relocates the action to L.A and the same grim feeling just isn't there. In this case, New York's gain is the wannabe sleazy film-maker's loss.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

October 15, 2013
There's a certain irony to this film's being a French-American project, seeing as how the original 1980 film was pretty much run by Italian-Americans, which means that the feud between the French and Italians rages on. Well, when it comes to this film, in terms of quality, I'd say that the French are leading, but in terms of menacing murderer "protagonists", the two films are about neck-and-neck, and not on an especially impressive level, because as convincing as Joe Spinell's Frank Zito was, he was still an overweight, middle-aged bum, and as convincing as Elijah Wood's Zito is, he's still, well, Elijah Wood. Hey, I joke, but Wood was pretty hardcore in "Sin City", when he was a silent ninja cannibal with a collection of women's heads and a pet wolf, like, almost ten years. Well, Wood doesn't look like he's going to be aging any time soon, so I don't necessarily know if the age difference between Zito and the Kevin character from "Sin City" plays all that big of a factor in deciding Wood's degree of menace in this film, but, with this film, all Wood is is your run-of-the-mill 21st century schizoid man who only collects scalps, and at any rate, the other crazy role that Wood is being recognized for lately only has a pet obnoxious Aussie in a dog costume, so it's kind of hard to take him that seriously as a weirdo... or at least until you see him rip off some chick's scalp and nail it to a mannequin, or rather, until "he" sees him rip off some chick's scalp and nail it to a mannequin. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you hard evidence that this is, in fact, a French film: the weird experimental filmmaking idea of having the film almost entirely shot from the point-of-view of the main character, which would explain why in the world they chose to get Elijah Wood, of all people, in this role. That's right, folks, we finally get to see what Wood sees with those big ol' eyes, and quite frankly, I don't know why people are saying that the point-of-view style isn't especially convincing, because a broad-screen Cinemascope field of vision is about what I'd expect from Wood. So yeah, forget 3D, I've been waiting to see a film in Elijah-Vision, though it feels like I've been waiting for them to release this blasted film even longer, because they built this puppy way up for us losers who couldn't go to Cannes Film Festival last year (Hey, while that was going on in France, on this side of the world, I was sleeping, so I got more-or-less the same experience), which would be great and all if the final product wasn't kind of underwhelming, being decent and whatnot, but nevertheless with a certain something that the Frank Zito character also has: quite a few problems.

The film will occasionally break from its first-person perspective filming style, but for the most part, this is a character study so intimate that it goes so far as to pull the unique trick of being presented almost entirely through the crazed eyes of its primary focus, and such a trick generally works better than you'd expect, or is at least gotten used to after a while, yet immersion value wears down a little the more the film struggles to do the impossible and have you completely connect with another person on a subjective level, until the lack of an objective storytelling style proves to be more distancing than anything, at least when your connection with the Frank Zito character is further watered down by some underdevelopment. Now, with a character study like this, ambiguity is practically needed, but there are still certain elements to developmental depth that I wish were more fleshed out, and not just because they would have reinforced the effectiveness of this film's subjective storytelling style. At just about 89 minutes, the film doesn't have a whole lot of time to flesh things out, and I would be more willing to accept that if the film didn't take too much time to drag out, for although this particular interpretation of this subject matter is arguably more focused than the original interpretation in 1980, there is still some excessiveness to material, if not filler, to keep things aimless, or at least kind of repetitious. The film has a tendency to tread circles along its path, no matter how controlled it may be in comparison with its somewhat messy cult classic counterpart, and I can't say that I'm all that surprised, because as short as this film is already, its subject matter doesn't really offer a whole lot room for dynamicity, for this story concept is fairly minimalist, perhaps problematically so. There are quite a few things to commend in this film, and only so much to complain about, so you'd figure that the final product would be a shoe-in for a rewarding status, but alas, the compellingness of the 1980 original was most held back by, of all things, natural shortcomings, ergo this, a recycling of a dramatically limited story concept, most suffers from the same natural shortcomings, which include limitations in layered weight and scope, reduced even more by the film's being too centered around one single character. Again, there isn't a whole lot to complain about, but potential is so thinned out by simple limitations in this subject matter, and with those limitations going emphasized by subtle, but recurring issues in the telling of an improvable story, the final product falls just shy of rewarding. That being said, the film comes even closer to such a point than its original, which I would still consider pretty underappreciated in a lot of ways, and while that's not quite the point I want this film to stand at, engagement value rarely abates, as surely as artistic impressiveness truly never abates.

The film seems to have the intention of somewhat thematically combining homages to the style of '80s thrillers following subject matter of this type with a hint of modernism, and such a theme is perhaps most reflected in RaphaŽl Hamburger's score, which, I must say, is sure to be one of the best of the year, being both unique and effective in its gleefully celebrating contemporary electronica sensibilities, controlled by both old-fashioned synthesizer stylings and an almost tastefully potent attention to minimalist intensity that stylishly draws you into the heart of this film's tone, but, of course, not without the help of a certain nifty element in visual style. Believe it or not, films portrayed almost, if not decidedly entirely through the point-of-view of the main character have been done before, but they're rare enough for originality to still play a factor in the engagement value of such a stylistic choice in this film, which is firm enough without uniqueness, for although time leaves you to either be worn down by the overly subjective gimmick, or simply get used to the gimmick, a great deal of immersion value never wears down, even if convincingness is a little shaken by cinematographer Maxime Alexandre's camera lens' having sharper vision than the usual human eye, featuring coloring and lighting that aren't that stunning, but remain rugged enough in their grittiness to be both handsome and complimentary to this thriller's tone. As you can imagine, this film is very heavily driven by its style, and on a stylistic level, this effort delivers thoroughly, to where style actually does a lot to bring life to substance, which doesn't necessarily need a whole lot of style to be fairly engaging. Like I said, it's natural shortcomings that most undercut the potential reward value in this drama, but there are still plenty of endearing elements to this story, and the telling of this tale is also pretty worthy of compliment, because where the originality of the somewhat formulaic 1980 film could have been seriously watered down with this remake, director Franck Khalfoun somehow manages to augment uniqueness by celebrating the original's refreshing idea of interpreting a murderer's tale through the perspective of the murderer, while filling out many of the holes in uniqueness with refreshing elements such as the point-of-view shooting style and even more attention to the mental instability of our lead, and doing it all while keeping up enough atmospheric bite to sustain a consistent degree of intrigue that keeps dullness at bay and really gets under your skin when material really kicks in. Making a lot of risky stylistic and storytelling moves, and placing an audacious attention to brutal violence and gore, Khalfoun does as much as he can to milk the chills out of this thriller, maybe with a hint of dramatic resonance, particularly when it comes the haunting ending, and while Khalfoun's efforts get to be questionable at times, and could never drive this minimalist drama all that far, Khalfoun's inspired lead offscreen performance helps in keeping things going, as does the inspiration behind a certain other leading, mostly offscreen performance. I feel as though the Frank Zito character is an underappreciated horror icon, because Joe Spinell portrayed him so effectively in the original 1980 film, so I was most excited about seeing what an underappreciated talent like Elijah Wood would bring to the role, and while I am a little disappointed to see that Wood is not as strong as Spinell was in the role, due to limitations in both acting material and objective views at the physical acting that really made Spinell's performance so powerful, Wood still turns in a strong lead performance, characterized by a potent emotional intensity that sells the anguish, confusion and fear of a mad man driven to do sick things by a traumatic life and vile mental illness. This film's lead performance is about the only aspect that is inferior to its counterpart in the 1980 original, but Wood is still worthy of filling of Spinell's shoes, and that's good enough for Wood to stand as an endearing enough lead to join sharp style and direction in playing a big part in making the final product a thriller that isn't quite rewarding, but keeps you chilled more often than not.

Overall, both the perhaps overly subjective storytelling style and a degree of underdevelopment distance you a bit from the thriller's depths, while repetitious dragging gives you enough time to soak up the mere natural shortcomings that really solidify the final product as kind of underwhelming, yet through outstandingly unique and effective score work, immersive cinematography and a fairly intriguing story concept, brought to life by effective direction and a strong lead performance by Elijah Wood, Franck Khalfoun's "Maniac" is left standing as an adequately engaging and often thrilling thriller, in spite of setbacks.

2.75/5 - Decent
Danny R

Super Reviewer

June 23, 2013
Franck Khalfoun's remake of the truly awful and notorious 80s slasher flick of the same name, is your typical bottom-of-the-barrel, grade D, exploitive cinematic trash, full of sicking sadistic violence towards women. The story concerns a young psychotic, named Frank, played by Elijah Wood in a serviceable performance who is a pervy owner of a mannequin store who has serious mother issues, he likes glaring into mirrors and prowling the city at night following women at random, or arranging online to meet them, and then bringing them to his home where he brutally murders and removes their scalps to put them on the heads of his vintage collection of mannequins. The film tries to be stylistic by using a first person point of view, that makes us see the bloody murders from the perspective of the killer, but so what! It is still a mindless, disgusting, worthless 90-minute killing spree that is very had to endure. Not Recommended.
DA Z

Super Reviewer

April 27, 2013
Maniac is a sweetly gruesome slasher flick mixed in with hallucinatory psychopathy and a side of nihilism. These qualities all contribute to its grueling tension and surrealness, to the point of feeling like you're suffering from schizophrenia. It's also a very stylishly directed film, as seen through the eyes of the narrator via the optical perception of the camera. Bottom line: Maniac is a mind-boggling gorefest, and any horror fan would be a fool to miss it.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

January 14, 2013
Wowsers. Maniac was scary, scuzzy, funny, gross and brilliant. Shown almost entirely through the eyes of Frank, the titular maniac, the only downside was that walking home made me feel a) creeped out and b) a bit like a serial killer. Brilliant/urghhh.
Chris H

Super Reviewer

January 24, 2014
From the director of P2, horror fans get another remake... this time for "Maniac", starring Elijah Wood. The film is about a psychotic man turned serial killer, can't say much more without giving too much away. Also, I haven't watched the original so I don't have much input as to the connection between the two.

The problem with this film is that it tried to be more than what it is. Elijah did great but the pacing was horrendous and the story was a little bit short-ended. What really ruined it for me was the first person point of view from the killer's perspective. I know what they were trying to do but it at some point in the movie, it got exhausting and just turned into a distraction instead of helping the viewer dive more in the mind of this killer. I honestly think that the film would have been a lot more enjoyable from a traditional perspective, including first person scenes moderately.

The score and music were absolutely amazing, truly the best part of this film. Surprisingly the gore was pretty intense, it had me cringing in some scenes of how real it looked and it isn't overused at all. It's an OK film but pretty boring.
Francisco  G.
Francisco G.

Super Reviewer

April 29, 2013
This is one of the rare remakes that actually manages to surpass the original, while paying tribute, bringing new things to the table and correcting what made the original confusing at times.

Whilst the original was pretty aimless at times, specially during the middle section, this remake explores what the other kept more vague (in order to throw in some pointless deaths, which was what broke the pace), specially the troubled protagonist, it's insecure sexuality and mommy issues. It works wonders on keeping things interesting and creepy while it lasts, backed up by the very impressive use of POV perspective. It's unconfortable for all the right reasons and you definently feel in the Maniac's perspective. Elijah Wood seems to have a knack for portraying creepy serial killers and he's a winner here too. His lead female partner is not too bad either but could've been a bit less clichť.

However, some silliness unsues at times, specially towards the end, which wasn't necessary at all. The whole sequence before you arrive at the true ending is just a bit over the top. Logic gaps here and there prevent this one to be a really good flick, but for a first time directorial debut, this guy shows balls, has all the technical skills required and manages to "humanize" the monster with smarts. Definently looking forward to the next one.
June 25, 2013
A beautifully shot and brutally graphic experimental serial killer film. Performances were generally good with Wood's being a standout. The POV cinematography was also fairly well done. Not for the fait of heart or weak stomached.
May 12, 2014
Or the Remake of the 80s Film Mannequin... Right?

Creepy, campy, and fun, even if it is too self-indulgent and violent to really be effective. This is a film for and by horror fans. With a 1st person perspective, Maniac puts you in the shoes of a psychotic killer, but it often feels burdened by this form. It often feels more like an experiment than an actual film. But what pulls you back to the film is Elijah Wood's terrific and terrifying performance as the mannequin store owner with mommy issues.

The film has fun with its horror trappings, and spends more time making you revel in the gore rather than being frightened by it. I'm sure many people will be turned off by its graphic nature, but there are things to enjoy about this film. It's definitely not a great film, mainly due to its inability to craft a consistent tone, but there is plenty to enjoy about this film, like Elijah Wood.
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