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5 Reasons Not To See MANIAC (And 2 Reasons You Should)

Maniac stars Elijah Wood as a mentally disturbed young man who has taken over his family’s mannequin sales business after the recent death of his mother. The violent thriller is out in limited theaters now, but ultimately leaves a lot to be desired. The film just doesn’t click on all levels, though some might find enjoyment out of it. Keep reading to check out my five reasons to skip Maniac, as well as two that might make it worth the watch. But if you were clamoring that much for Elijah Wood to play against-type, you’d be better served to just watch Sin City (2005).

  1. I’m unsure whether it was the explicit violence or the shaky POV camera-work that left me dizzy, sweating and sick to my stomach, but Franck Khalfoun’s remake of Maniac (1980) is an experiment in violence consumption that worked on some levels. On other levels, however, I wondered if this remake was needed in the first place. The problem with this film is that’s the essential effect it has…illness.
  2. Although the film works as a meditation on the way the viewer perceives violence, when you strip away the near-gimmick camera-work, the film is nothing more than a hollow entry in misogynistic slash ‘em-ups. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love classic slashers. But trite is trite.
  3. If you’re an Elijah Wood fan. Maybe you fondly remember the young lad who slid along the icy roads in The Ice Storm (1997).  Maybe those big, blue eyes just pull you in with their planetary gravity, luring you deep into the charm that is Elijah. Well, friend, I’m sorry to say that Maniac will likely change that forever. Those eyes turn evil and the rare moment you see them, it’s a bit jarring.
  4. It’s yet another remake that fails to say anything new. When you consider remakes (which are abundant in the horror genre) you see successes like The Fly (1986). The Fly succeeded where the original failed, because the original failed on its own premise. The original Maniac did not. It’s a bloody, sickening, death-fest that eventually became a cult film. The remake, however, is just a bloody, sickening, death-fest and brings nothing new or fresh to the table.
  5. It’s a toss-up here. I’d like to say the filmmakers succeeded in their thesis. Which is, force the viewer to see violence through the eyes of a psychopath leaving the viewer to feel the very sickness the psycho feels. If motion sickness causes one to murder…than dude, look out for me after this movie. That’s the only sickness I felt. I didn’t quite feel the madness of Frank. I just felt regret at not purchasing a bottle of Dramamine.

 

Two Reasons to See Maniac:

 

  1. Elijah Wood is terrifying as the serial killer, Frank. Now, he’s not on screen much at all but that’s the essential quality of the film that the filmmakers decided would make theirs unique. The film is shot through Frank’s POV and Elijah provides hand movements, heavy breathing and dialogue throughout.  So as he stalks his prey and kills them or when he staples a fresh scalp to one of his mannequins, he plays along with them all, separating himself further from the reality of his actions. It’s all fantasy to Frank and Elijah sells it.
  2. If you’re a fan of classic slasher films and enjoy seeing the tropes pop up here and there, than you’ll likely find something to enjoy. A girl runs from her stalker. For some reason, she leaves her heels on. She turns down an…wait for it…ABANDONED ALLEY! Where she finds a creepy, closed off, isolated parking lot. Seriously, lady…what the hell? I love this stuff and I know a lot of you do too. So when you see an over-the-top killing, you’ll be delighted. But between those moments…well…see the first section of this list.

*Bonus reason to see it*

– Megan Duffy (the new Burger King girl) is delightful as Lucie, one of Frank’s victims. Her character, unfortunately, isn’t on screen much, but she’s one of the more rewarding pieces of this mess of a puzzle.

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The Author

Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien

Michael graduated with a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Film Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2009. He currently lives with his wife, two cats (and Netflix account) in NYC. He has published short stories on 400words.com and asouthernjournal.com. He has published poems in The Poetry Gymnasium by Dr. Tom Hunley and in The Roundtable.