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A deep and subtle meditation on sexuality and subjectivity
8/10 Man! I was not expecting this kind of a knife to the gut when I bought my ticket for "Maniac" knowing nothing about the movie.3 years ago
I like horror movies...sort of...but I don't like gory movies. It scares me and disturbs me to see that kind of thing. This movie...is full of gruesome, unwatchable scenes of torture.
But...it works. This is one of the only gore films I've ever seen where the gore is necessary. Well, why is it necessary? Most of the film is shot in first-person perspective, from the eyes of the troubled killer. He cannot reconcile his sadistic, aggressive impulses to torture and punish women with his tender impulses to love and be loved by them.
Whenever he is sexually attracted to a woman he responds with a host of symptoms that might be seen as unconscious attempts to protect him from something unbearable inside. He washes his hands until they bleed, he blacks out, he has hallucinations, he has crippling migraines...but nothing works as well as killing and scalping women...reducing them to objects. The director plays cleverly with this conceit by making him a restorer of mannequins.
So far, so good. What this film does well...and I can't remember the last horror movie that had this effect on me...is to hit dangerously close to home. I recognize myself in this killer...I recognize that masculine desire as such has the potential to turn into what is presented here...the main character barely appears on screen...he is nothing but a desperate gaze seeking an object to consume with his scary watery blue eyes. It is only once he has killed his victims and transformed them into inanimate objects - their bloody scalps (the scalping in this movie is even worse than in Inglourious Basterds) - that he is able to come to be (temporarily) as a subject and not as a pure restless gaze. The director makes us feel his relief by only giving us third-person glimpses of the titular maniac when his blood lust is (temporarily) sated. I found myself letting out a deep breath every time the camera backed away from Frank for a few short seconds after a kill. We feel, viscerally, the back-and-forth between the libido's ruthless injunctions and the stifled desire to be a human being among other humans (here, being included literally in the frame with others). Incidentally, this is why this film works in a way that "The Lady in the Lake" doesn't - the "pure" first person fails in that film because in life we do not experience ourselves "only" from the first person but rather from a back-and-forth between the first and the third person.
The many scenes of the maniac stalking the women are very creepy, for the simple reason that much of what he does - looking at women, maybe following them a little, perving on their curves - is just normal male behavior. On my way home from the movie, lost in thought, late at night, on an empty street, I nearly walked into a young woman, walking home alone, and then found myself walking behind her on the sidewalk. I hope she didn't see the same movie I did.
But why is the gore necessary? The gore is necessary because this film is a meditation on the subject/object split constitutive of subjectivity as such. The "pure subject" that is gaze can only be satisfied by encountering a "pure object", one that can only be found somewhere inside the body of a woman. Freud might say that Frank is searching for the fantasized maternal phallus...an interpretation that fits perfectly with the maniac's backstory. We need to see the gore because we need to feel the frustration that this character feels...we come to understand that he is so oppressed by his own "subjectivity", the prison of his own gaze, that he is compelled to commit horrible crimes, to cut through bone and skin, just to get some relief from his drives.
Another creepy and effective feature of this film is that at least one of his victims is an awful human being whom we want to see die. It is disturbing to realize this. "Get her, Frank!" I found myself rooting as he followed the gallerist home. It was also perspicacious of the director to present Anna to us first as a sort of angelic soul who presumably sees the maniac's inner beauty only to reveal to us later that in fact she is a shallow narcissist whose interest in Frank was always self-serving. We are as surprised as Frank when she says she has a boyfriend...why? Because she has been leading "us" on until then. The nickel drops when we meet her boyfriend in the bathroom: he is a sexy macho jerk, the kind of man women like Anna like in real life. Anna turns out to be almost a female counterpart to Frank: a woman not interested in other human beings but in objects...in the mysterious object inside herself (hence her own face projected on the mannequins)...we sense that the difference between her and Frank is a question of degree, not of kind...the true difference between them is that they occupy asymmetrical positions vis-a-vis the same hypnotic object: the maternal phallus hidden somewhere inside a woman's body.
A brave role for Elijah Wood...brave because it uses to full advantage his weird blend of adult and infantile features...his very body and face (especially the eyes) are turned into disturbing external manifestations of his inner conflicts.
8 stars for a movie that has made me feel, viscerally, some disturbing truths about sexuality and identity that previously only registered on the intellectual level.
Brilliant and creepy
10/10 I had no idea what to expect from 'Maniac' i had never seen or heard of the original movie, i came across this remake whilst checking out other users watch lists and the title alone had my interest.3 years ago
Honestly though i had my doubts about this movie because when i see Elijah Wood i instantly think of Lord of The Rings i was intrigued to see if he could pull off the role of a psychopathic killer.
So what did i think?
Firstly the music throughout the movie is awesome, there are moments when the soundtrack sounds like something from 'A Clockwork Orange' its dark and really creates an atmosphere of sinisterness.
Elijah Wood is perfect for this role his voice and delivery of the script is great. The movie is shot from the killers point of view (POV) but the moments when you actually see Elijah Wood he looks perfect for this role, strange, disturbed out of place and mentally unstable.
The violence is not excessive in its amount but it is extremely brutal in its detail, it wasn't easy to watch the scalping without cringing and i have a strong threshold for movie gore, this was just brutal and in your face, it was great because very few films get to me in this way.
If you like psycho movies and brutal gore then you'll love this movie like i did.
'Maniac' is easily one of my favorite psycho killer movies of all time, my girlfriend (who actually loves horror and can handle gore) has vowed never to watch 'Maniac' again because it made her feel so uncomfortable... aw!
Impressive remake of one of the nastiest, violent and utterly scummy slasher films of the 1980's
9/10 The world wasn't exactly crying out for a remake of 1980's "Maniac". Starring Joe Spinnel and directed by William Lustig, it was one of the most intense, jarring, violent and in your face horror films of the entire decade. Surprisingly, someone got the idea to remake it. The results are surprisingly close to the original in its refusal to compromise and the highly disturbing and troubling psychological terrain it traverses.3 years ago
Not so much powered by anything resembling a conventional story, the film is very much in the tradition of character based cinema very much in the vein of 1970's New Hollywood cinema-films such as "Midnight Cowboy" and, of course, "Taxi Driver", which it wears its influence loudly and proudly.
Elijah Wood absolutely stuns in this remake-he truly is the glue that holds it all together. Frank (Wood) is very much torn between something resembling a normal life and his more psychotic tendencies. The film really gets you in this character's highly disturbed and disturbing frame of mind and psychology.
Apart from a truly astounding and fearless performance from Wood, where this remake really excels is in its visual and sound design and look and sound. When Frank is plagued by constant migraine headaches, the frame starts to blur around the edges, accompanied by a high pitched sound. Also, with a few exceptions, the film is very much told visually in a first perspective, point of view manner. We only see Frank via reflection in something like a mirror or a window, illustrating beautifully the man's fractured and shattered mind.
Be warned, though. Although not constantly violent, when it is, this film, like the original, takes absolutely no prisoners whatsoever! This, coupled with the unnerving, dark terrain it covers, will, like the original, make it something of an acquired taste. If you've got the nerves and stomach for it, prepare to be shocked and stunned. A true exception to the rule about all remakes being watered down, compromised and awful.
A Remake that exceeds the original.
8/10 I saw this movie at an advanced screening of what I thought was a restoration of the original movie. Instead, I got treated to movie that I didn't even know was being released. The Maniac remake is a really good movie and better than its predecessor, which was more notable for its Tom Savini gore effects and unconventional leading man than for actually being a good movie.3 years ago
This flick, like the previous Maniac, dispels the idea that psychopaths are cool or bad ass. Here, Frank (Elijah Wood) is a weirdo loner that spends his days restoring antique mannequins and his nights stalking, murdering, and scalping beautiful young women. His grip on reality is so fragile that he has to chug anti-psychotics just to keep his hallucinations under control. Then he meets a pretty young French girl that actually seems to like him. Instead of offering redemption, the burgeoning relationship only makes him more unstable.
The murders are bloody and brilliantly shot and they're made dramatically more by disturbing the film's central gimmick, almost the entire movie is presented from the killer's POV.
The new Maniac does a solid job of capturing the grind-house spirit of the original film. There's plenty of sick humor, sex, and gore all well captured by director Frank Khalfoun. He also partnered with Alaxander Aja (High Tension, The Hill Have Eyes), a co-writer and producer, on the disposable P2 which sucked despite, not because of him. Then he made the superior crime flick Wrong Turn at Tahoe. Now, after watching Maniac, I have to say he is officially a director to keep an eye on. Elijah Wood also does great work as Frank, although I admit it took me a little while to get used to the idea of the stoner dork from Wilfred as a murderer. He definitely won me over by the end, though.
There are minor problems here and there, like the way the whole city is always completely deserted when Frank is stalking a victim. Still, this is a great little movie, very violent, and if you're a gore hound that's also interested in the psychology of a killer, you should watch this immediately.
A sick desperation lingers on...........
8/10 Since I have not seen the original Maniac (1980) hence this movie for me had no prerequisite anticipatory factor attached to it. Also since slasher movie genre doesn't hold so much of a charm on me so I took this movie in a stride, if you know what I mean. I was highly impressed by Elijah Wood in Sin City, his cold calculated cannibalistic killer portrayal had an allure to it and just so as to revisit that coldness I went into Maniac.3 years ago
Now one thing I can guarantee about Maniac is it's quite difficult to stay indifferent to it. It's ruthlessly executed. The P.O.V approach is spot on, for then you truly tend to understand what goes inside that head of his. After a point of time it turns into a personal experience of sorts and this is what P.O.V brings to the table. The strain and the blurry visions when Frank has those migraines reciprocates his own pain and you first hand live through his troubled life, feeding into his dreams and upon his preys. It would be incorrect to call Maniac a slasher movie, it does have elements resembling the Slasher genre but in it's nuances you find a whole gamut of emotions colliding and forging his actions. It explores Frank inside out and in turn generates sympathy for him. His loneliness and his apprehensions in confronting his emotions tend to make him more than a simple antagonist. As Frank you feel cheated, angry and a sick desperation to manifest these emotions into something violent. I won't say if it was meant to be an allegory of sorts on the society and it's structure but it sure was an interesting character study.
Technically the movie is superbly done, the P.O.V might be a little discomforting to start with but soon it settles in, there are portions where the continuity is broken but those are real Cathartic situations and so the idea in itself justifies the break of continuity. As for the performances, Elijah Wood; not so visible save in mirrors is still terrific, his voice for much of the movie brings out the desperation inside him. He is truly an underrated actor with such vast potential, it's just a matter of putting in a straw and sucking out the talent. Even Nora as Anna puts in a nice performance, looking straight into the camera and with no source to compliment her performance she manages to pull it off real nice. Overall Maniac in terms of story offers nothing new but the treatment is worth the accolades. It might seem hollow at times and Frank a little cliched but still for the sheer experimentation and experience of it, Maniac at least a one time watch..I'd go with a 8/10...and would recommend for sure.