The horror genre goes in phases, it always has. With the recent spell of haunting movies and zombie flicks it seems that the new trend is brutal horror pieces that dare you to keep on looking. The Purge, You’re Next and the new Evil Dead movie have all gone for extreme violence and thrills. Now Maniac is getting in on the action. Another remake, this time of a 1980s film made by cult horror director William Lustig and starring Joe Spinell (best known to main stream film goers for his part as Rocky’s mob boss) as the overweight sweaty psycho. This remake seems to be following the same formula but has switched it around by having baby face Elijah Wood in the lead role of the killer and is written by Alexandre Aja, the man behind horror classic High Tension. The director is Franck Khalfoun (P2). The killer is called Frank who is a disturbed man with only his mother for company. When she died his thoughts turned to darkness. He owns a mannequin shop and develops an obsession with a woman who he sees photographing mannequins. While this relationship is building, his killer urges still need to be satisfied in the most extreme ways. Here is the new trailer but be warned it has extreme content in it.
This trailer certainly captures the tone of the movie with its mix of sex and violence which makes for uncomfortable viewing. As usual, the red band trailer takes it just a little bit further.
Elijah Wood seems to be able to give off that puppy dog look and then switch it to inverted psycho very easily and it is pretty creepy hearing him talk about how much he loves his potential victims before smashing their faces in walls, stabbing them up, etc. The difference here is that you can imagine pretty boy Elijah having no trouble picking up these women to murder and also the relationship angle works a lot better here. In the original because of his size and general look, it was difficult to see poor Joe Spinell in a relationship with a hot lady. It seemed forced in that film, while from the bits we have seen in the trailer this relationship seems to develop more organically. The original did have a sleazy feel to it because of its tone and the low budget it had. This film tries to retain some of the original’s grime and even though it looks a lot smoother it does show that dark underbelly. The tense scenes in darkened alley ways and streets certainly helps add to this feeling. There is a good chance a shower may be in order after diving into this sleazy affair.
Elijah is a big part of this film working as he plays against his typecasting to give us a truly scary portrayal of a mad man. Much like Norman Bates in Psycho, his good looks and supposedly normal interactions with people hide the darkness inside and is merely a shell to hold the killer at bay. Mind you, anyone that has seen Green Street will know that when Elijah Wood really wants to kick off he can break heads with the best of them. The use of constant POV shots will no doubt make the viewing experience even more uncomfortable because the viewer has no escape from the carnage they are seeing and it seems like we are actively engaging in it to or just as bad, becoming a voyeur looking at all the carnage as it unfolds. Mannequins are just plain freaky anyway and they pop up a lot throughout this movie, all helping to keep that dark atmosphere.
This is all looking promising but if the film will be able to keep up with the dark tone of the original still remains to be seen, but it looks well on its way to getting there. Getting Alexandre on board is certainly a plus. He is well known for his work on hard hitting and shocking horror movies so this film is in safe hands and the dark tone seen in the trailer will hopefully be seen throughout the movie. The key part of the original film was the way the female victims were killed, with their heads getting scalped and put onto mannequin’s heads. With the new posters that have just come out (via Dread Central) it seems that this film is going the same route with some nice posters showing how gruesome this film is going to get.