MANIAC-France/United States-89 Mins. 2012
Directed by Franck Khalfoun
Screenplay by Alexandra Aja and Gregory Levasseur
Based on the original screenplay by Joe Spinell
My mother was a whore who screwed multiple partners in cocaine-fueled sex-fests while as a child I watched. When I grew up I became a serial killer who murdered women and used their scalps for the mannequins I restore and for my own sick idea of the perfect mate and life. Well, not my mother and not me; Frank’s mother. I just wanted to get your attention. Frank would be Frank Zito as portrayed by Elijah Wood (Sin City, The Ice Storm) in the remake of the 1980 slasher classic, Maniac. I may as well be referring to myself; anyone who watches Maniac could make the same claim. Aside from a few brief moments throughout the film we never see Frank from another person’s point of view. Instead, we see Frank from Frank’s point of view via mirrors, glass and other such reflections. Frank is our eyes as we see her (she is so beautiful). He is our hands as we drive the blade home into her soft skin (she tried to scream). He works the knife in our hands with such skill and precision as we take her scalp for his (our?) collection. Oh mommy, if you only knew what your little boy has become.
I’ll come right out and say it: I was very impressed with the Maniac of 2012. It’s a voyeur cum serial killer’s wet dream. I’ve said before that I usually keep my mouth shut about the acting side of cinema as I feel that I am a horrible judge of what’s good and what isn’t. I’m going to break that silence by saying that Elijah Wood’s role as Frank Zito is the single most satisfying performance of his adult career and yes, I am including his turns as one of those furry-toed hobbits in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In Wood’s capable hands Frank is not frightening so much as he is pathetic. He is a sad, lonely man with twisted dreams. The few times that he seems normal is when he is with Anna (Nora Arnezeder, Safe House, The Words), a woman who sees Frank and his mannequins as something romantic. Does Frank see real women as mannequins; or does he see mannequins as real women? Does it really matter? It all comes down to blood, hair and polystyrene in what I believe is one of the best horror films I’ve seen in the past ten years.
The movie features the song “Good-bye Horses,” by Q. Lazzarus. The song was also featured in The Silence of the Lambs, another movie about a serial killer who skinned people and had issues with his mother.
We don’t see Frank’s face until 12 minutes into the film.
Right after the scene when Frank kills the girl in a parking lot and he stands up with a knife in one hand and scalp in the other, you can see his reflection for a few seconds that is intentionally styled as the poster of the original movie Maniac.
Body count: 9.
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