The Horror Honeys: I Warned You Not to Go Out Tonight…

I Warned You Not to Go Out Tonight…

A Revenge Honey Review

Maniac (2012)

I’d like to share a little Revenge Honey Background before getting into my review this week. Actor Elijah Wood and I are roughly around the same age, and since I have been a moviegoer since I was a really, REALLY little kid, it almost feels as if he and I have grown up together. I even saw some of his very first movies in the theater, including his ACTUAL first film, Back to the Future II. (He was in it, look it up.) Here is the thing though: while I have grown, and changed, and matured, I feel that when I look at 31-year-old Elijah Wood, I pretty much just see 8-year-old Elijah Wood, but with facial hair (and non-convincing facial hair at that). In fact, I’m not even sure his voice ever changed.

And frankly, I find that very strange and unsettling.

However, it is these very (very) unnerving factors that may have made him the perfect casting choice for the lead in Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac, a remake of William Lustig’s 1980 slasher flick of the same name.

Remake (and original alike) tell the story of Frank, a fellow with some serious mommy issues who likes to stalk women, murder them, and then scalp them. In Khalfoun’s take on Lustig’s grindhouse classic, all of the original elements are there, but Khalfoun has made some fantastic stylistic choices that make this Maniac distinctly his own.

Khalfoun’s set pieces are the real showstoppers in Maniac, without question. He made the decision to film the movie almost entirely from Frank’s point of view. This is a really freaking bold move, because right off, you are in Frank’s head, stalking and murdering with him. It’s disorienting, but also forces you to quite literally see life from his perspective. When the film comes out of Frank’s POV, it actually falters a little, losing some of what makes it most gripping. But those moments don’t last long, and once the film moves back behind Frank’s eyes, you will quickly be sick to your stomach again, which in a film like this is key.

Additionally, with his somehow gorgeous shots of the absolute skeeziest side of the city he could find, the Los Angeles of the 2012 Maniac easily works as a companion to the utterly decayed NYC of the original. There is a desolation in the city streets that perfectly conveys Frank’s mental state but equally encapsulates the loneliness of even a modern city. If you’re not a cinematography nerd like I am though, gore-hounds won’t be disappointed either. Khaloun lingers over each slice and stab with the true adoration of horror freak. Even the bad-assiest Horror Honey will be squirming in her seat.

It’s also worth mentioning that the score in this film is fucking phenomenal. All of the original music is written by Rob (yes, Rob. I don’t know either) and it’s this exceptionally terrifying throwback synthesizer rock that will truly drag you into the back alleys of LA. The songs are reminiscent of Goblin mixed with the great stalking music of Jason and Freddy but still totally modern. I immediately downloaded the shit out of the soundtrack. You should do the same.

The only problem was that I was not 100% sold on Elijah Wood as Frank. Sure, Wood may look like the kind of guy that would stalk and scalp women all over Los Angeles. But keep this in mind kids: we don’t actually see Frank for 90% of the movie. Additionally, on several different occasions when Wood would say something intimidating to one of the victims in his sweet little voice, many of the audience members I saw the film with would laugh. Based on the tone of the rest of the film, I highly doubt this was the intended response to those scenes. So while Elijah Wood may know how to play creepy, I’m just not sure he was the right kind of creepy for Maniac.

So no, Maniac isn’t perfect. I actually hated Khalfoun’s other well-known horror movie, P2. But his style is so clear and mind-bogglingly beautiful in this remake that even when you want to look away, you can’t. The man knows what he’s doing, and that alone makes Maniac worth seeing.

However… I maintain Elijah Wood might be a pod person. Could someone look into that?

Revenge Honey gives Maniac 3 out of 5 Stabby Points!

PS – Look for a fun nod to another famous film slasher who had some issues with the womens and liked to slice and dice!