Critic Consensus: Shocking and bloody. Maniac is smarter than your average psychological slasher, but it's often undermined by its excessive gore.
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Critic Reviews for Maniac
It's not clear what exactly merited an updating of William Lustig's 1980 "Maniac" - a cheapo urban grimeball about a serial killer - but like a rash's unwelcome return, we got it anyway.
It's a bit like watching an amputee play hopscotch: there's no way that it's polite to stare for this long, but you just have to see if this guy's gonna make it to the end.
Audience Reviews for Maniac
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.
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.
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.
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