"MANIAC" (2012) Movie

Written by Alexandra Aja, Gregory Levasseur & C.A.Rosenberg

Based on original screenplay by Joe Spinell

Directed by Franck Khalfoun

Screened at the Brisbane International Film Festival

Rated: Unrated/MA15+

                                                           Review by Warrick Fraser

We stare out of the glazed eyes of a young recluse through his days of restoring aged mannequins,

at night, pursuing women with the intention to brutally attack them with the constant visions of his past

& past victims slipping dreamlike into his consciousness. I think we know where this is heading.

There are only a few, in my opinion, successfully remade & reinvigorated horror classics from the

70's to 80's era. The Hills Have Eyes & Rob Zombie's Halloween reinterpretation come to mind. I am

eagerly awaiting the new Sam Raimi & Bruce Campbell produced Evil Dead. From the collection known

as 'video nasties' in it's day, comes the fresh take on the infamous 1981 slasher, Maniac.

                                                                                    Frank(Elijah Wood plays this well) is a lonely man. Neglectful, taunting & long

                                                                                    dead mother. Missing parts of a healthy psyche. Despite his ongoing violent

                                                                                    tendencies, we know he's going to meet a girl (beautiful Nora Arnezeder) to

                                                                                    help change his ways. Or maybe make it worse.

                                                                                    I love the heavy use of first-person camera, through the eyes of Frank.

                                                                                    Objects occasionally slip of focus, light refracting, the sound of his internal

                                                                                    breathing. Revered cliche moments & a nice visual homage mid-movie.

                                                                                    Character building moments of recalled memory mixed with the vacant

                                                                                    poses of Frank's mannequins are suited to this story. First-person shots

                                                                                    allow little traditional empathy with Frank, something directed with purpose.

                                                                                    Yet holds our macabre attention in his bloodthirsty pursuits.

The music is great. I love the modern quality synth takes on the classic, well-worn 80's soundtracks.

Simple & haunting. These thematic choices are also having a resurgence in films.

Yes, it is bloodthirsty & strikingly violent. With uncomfortable smears of off-coloured light amidst the

scenes of unnatural solitude & hidden torment of Frank's mind. But there are those modern flourishes

of artistic bent & dark beauty. Clever old school camera tricks with newer editing styles are well

suited here.

I can barely remember the original, but the vague elements are still there. Including the ending.

Some details are altered & a more generous budget allows an obvious fresh style here, with a little

more genre expanding than the original achieved.

                                                                                    I enjoyed the ride. And, admittedly, have become somewhat desensitised to the

                                                                                    hack/slash genre from viewing many popular splatterfest 80's titles in my teens,

                                                                                    through to today's ho-hum bloody sfx roster. Psychological terror & trepidation

                                                                                    always pulled on deeper emotional tendrils, as is my preferred taste in thrillers.

                                                                                    The modern take of this movie is a step in the right direction that remakes like

                                                                                    A Nightmare on Elm Street should have utilised.