Tag Archives: Elijah Wood

Maniac Remake Makes For Disturbing Viewing

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.

Maniac

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.

Maniac

Maniac

Elijah Wood Set to Star in Indie Thriller “Grand Piano”

Looks like Frodo is finally growing up. Directed by Eugenio Mira and written by Damien Chazelle, Green Street Hooligans star Elijah Wood is set to star in Grand Piano, an independent thriller produced by Adrian Guerra and Rodrigo Cortes, two of the men behind the claustrophobic-Ryan Reynold’s thriller Buried.

This is what The Hollywood Reporter has to say about the film’s plot:

“The story concerns a once-great concert pianist who suffers from stage fright and comes back to perform after a five-year hiatus. Just when he’s about to play the first bar, he notices somebody has written a threatening note on his music sheet. He’s now forced to play his best concert ever to save his life as well as his wife’s. Think Speed at a piano.”

At first glance, this might seem like an absolutely horrid idea for a film, but considering Buried made quality entertainment out of a man in a coffin, I’m sure Grand Piano has some tricks up its sleeve to keep the audience guessing. Also, the film’s exotic location (Ciudad de la Luz in Alicante) promises some excellent scenery shots and hopefully a little bit of a cultural bite.

Wood has had a very busy schedule these past couple of years. With a leading role in the upcoming Disney XD show “TRON: Uprising” and the upcoming second season of the FX hit “Wilfred”, Wood’s got a lot on his plate. He’ll also be reprising the role of Frodo in the upcoming film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Also, his other major project, Maniac, which was co-written by Piranha 3D director Alexandre Aja, will be premiering at the Cannes Film Festival later this month.

Grand Piano is slated to begin production later this summer.

FX’s Wilfred – Series Premiere “Happiness” Review

Never before has there been a show that I was so uncertain of going in. For months worth of Justified we were bombarded with ads for a show about Frodo and a man dressed as a dog. We didn’t know much more than that. However, given their track record, I’ll give anything on FX a chance.

The show starts off with Ryan’s (Wood – see what I did there?) attempted suicide. He is trying to over-dose on the anxiety medicine his sister gave him, and failing miserably. His survival results in a wasted 4th draft of his suicide note and his impending introduction to his new neighbor Jenna and her dog – Wilfred.

Wilfred is no regular dog though as you can see. Because of Ryan’s fragile psyche, he sees Wilfred a man playing dog, where the rest of the world just sees a dog. This allows Ryan an outlet and someone to talk to, in what is really a Fight Club situation, and Ryan is talking to himself.

What he perceives to be Wilfred though means nothing but trouble for out protagonist, and that results in the further spiral-downturn that his life heads in. Ryan starts out simply tolerating Wilfred to get closer to Jenna – obviously, but he then grows attached the low-life canine. As he begins to trust his new friend, the audience learns this pooch can’t be trusted. This harkens to Youth in Revolt and makes for the start of what should prove to be an entertaining show, if it survives.

The idea isn’t new, it’s actually a re-make of an Aussie show by the same title, and staring the same dog – Jason Gann. The original series ran from 2007-2010 before Gann was able to sell FX on it and bring it to the states.

The first episode was funny and original (at least here in the US) and had a dark humor that I think is really paired well with its Thursday night partner Louie. That however is what worries me, this may be too dark and clever to survive.

Not knowing what to expect going in turned out to be a nice surprise for me, it’s not often that’s the case. I really liked it and look forward to next week. Though at the same time my girlfriend and her sister, who both watched it with me, didn’t laugh at all, so I wonder if it has enough mainstream appeal to draw in new viewers. In any case, I once again give FX kudos as they try to populate my TV with something a little different.

I’d give this first episode a ‘optimistic for the future’ 3.5/5 Bears.