MANIAC (2012)



Directed By: Franck Khalfoun
Written By: Alexandre Aja & Greg Levasseur
Based on the original Screenplay By: Joe Spinell
Cinematography By: Maxime Alexandre
Editor: Baxter & Franck Khalfoun
Music By: Rob 

Cast: Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezander, America Olivio, Genevive Alexandra, Megan Duffy

Just when the streets seemed safe, a serial killer with a fetish for scalps is back and on the hunt. Frank is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna appears asking for his help with her new exhibition. As their friendship develops and Frank’s obsession escalates, it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill.

The change of locations from New York to Los Angeles doesn’t hurt or help, doesn’t really matter. As it lends itself to more of an urban landscape. Where people and victims can easily disappear and no one bat an eyelash. Nor a mystery that takes over and gains a bigger interest. As in these big cities people come in and leave all the time usually due to failure of some kind in career or mentality. Plus plenty of places to leave the bodies. Though in using California it does seem to try to work off it’s locations and vibes. Just as the original used the crumbling and scary new York to help define it’s tone and mood.

The story line is mostly the same. It keeps up the level of unflinching violence. It tries to explain the character a little more psychologically. As the film takes place mostly from his Point of view. Which comes across as daring but also can easily come off as more a gimmick to justify it’s own means. though it might lose some credit because of the vicious nature that seems punishing and over the top. As the original was something where the audience was presented with and were introduced and left for you to ponder especially the ending. While this aims for the same but it feels more aimed at being entertainment. Which the original was presented as in the form of shocking exploitation cinema.

Though while the special effects are realistic especially in the ending it has impressive effects especially the look on the face, but in other scenes the scalpings and other actions that happened the effects aren’t as impressive.

Honestly I wish I could have liked this film more. While the original was already controversial because of it’s particular misogyny. It still looms large as a time capsule of the times and seen as a classic in the horror genre. It’s a film that doesn’t come off as very likeable especially in attitude. This film seems to have to stick to that mindset and it’s viciousness is disturbing, but also here the film feels more full and offers up more answers and style. That actually tries to defend it’s choices. It still is something that is tough to sit through, especially in it’s treatment of women, but it also isn’t here to make anyone sacred. After all is not horror seeing our own fears being played out. Some get a release out if it, so authorized to getting a reaction. Get it out of our system the fear of being the victim. Just as we hope to be the survivor. Where we like to think we would act differently. it seems to want to disturb and maybe repulse it’s audience. Like a comedian out to shock it’s audience but with some substance behind their stance. a little too sadistic for me.

It also leaves it faster to see the killer’s aim through his façade and provides a more realistic reason and manner in which how and why girls would be attracted to him. Leaving us to understand how he acquires so many victims.

Watching the film the killer gives all the signs of being disturbed. So, it’s Surprising she isn’t scared off by his creepiness. Does she honestly think he is just shy? He never shows any real charm which stays in line as in the original. Though at least the original tried to show he could be that way.

Again the P.O.V. aspect feels like a gimmick but we also see things through her eyes at times, but when with him we experience it like a surrogate or the villain we don’t want to go on trip with

One of the updates is that get Into his psyche a little more. Which seems to also be more of a requirement these days in horror cinema. As the audience seems to find it hard to believe in just randomness. Unless it is justified by constant distraction or tunnel vision cinema that has one idea and sticks to it.

If more remakes were like this remaking but adding something original a different take on it if they have a real reason could they have gone with an original yes. But would have been wider not to seem like it is so run of the mill this way stays on track and can sir the excuse of updating the story

It is vulgar but doesn’t seem as nasty in original seemed to do it just to do it let it feels more like a cynical truth that to me is more scary as it could and introduce and inspire

Leave you rooting, waiting for the thrill of the kill. Hopefully this will scare them off of it give them all that desire. That is scary that a film can have that power over you making you lust after something that normally would horrify, but makes it all the more seductive. That is the power of certain cinema and have to give the film and film makers credit. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with the material.

Joe Spinell looked crazed even with the charm he seemed more a slob. in the fact that he wrote the original screenplay may explain why though Hard to believe any of his victims or even his love interest would have any interest in him. Even if a single mother. Elijah wood has the creepiness but also the looks that make him seem more like a wounded lamb rather then a beast in hiding.

Though in the original Joe Spinell fits the role more he is more creepy unhinged but surprises when he can turn on the charm to romance. The killings are more random. Here Elijah wood foot as he is, his killer stays the same through out and still this girl likes him though he already seems strange. This feels like the simpering cliche of a serial killer we are used to it would have been interesting to show he can be charming if needed, As most serial killers at times can be. though one girl throws themselves at him.

It seems that women in horror who might be heroines after being tortured. As they must survive being put through the fire and coming out stronger but are mostly victims they never get credited as masterminds or killers most be possessed part of a cult with demon. The rare times that they are they are more in the background or second in charge. Then they are usually only doing it out of love or being seduced to do a man’s work for him. They never seem to be just a plain old slasher. Even now a days they seem to be rebooting or trying to remake or reboot classic horror into movies or television shows.

So when you watch films you can’t be too sure usually portrayed as physically weak. You never know exactly who might survive, Usually have to be saved and only survive out of ingenuity or luck.

How easily we can be sexist in thinking they are innocent femme fatales. In that they are innocent or sexually promiscuous which goes against a certain belief of morals and in a way deserve punishment though death is over the top or so seductive and trusting that it leads to their own peril or that there is something so attractive that the killer can’t help themselves but to be attracted and out of disgust with themselves or what they desire she must pay the price. Look at films such as HOSTEL 2, Where the female protagonist turned into the most vicious. As the women they become victims before one ends up becoming more ruthless out of necessity.

At least in first film there were male victims also usually we are so used to always seeing women being cut up with boyfriend who are more the innocent types are only victims through association or standing in the way of the kill and they might be more of a lead up to their main major intended victims. The tough guys are usually unlikeable in some way and it seems more of a pissing contest between the killer and the male. So one must be emasculated and it’s not the one who is the star and main reason for the franchise.

It’s not extraordinary it is serviceable. It has plenty of strengths quite a few minuses. Neither film is ever going to be on my favorite list. Stylistically aesthetically this film is more impressive and therefore despite it’s rough nature a more entertaining watch.

The gimmick falters and shots are obviously more focused on style. As one can see the best way for the scares is to be shot in that manner. As it helps set up the thrill in the chase until the ultimate pay off that we all know is coming. It’s the foreplay or even the action before the money shot. As the action is what we will most likely remember more.

The film still is more sexually explicit than the original more for shock and exploitation then is really needed but since we are already immersed in this disturbing world so extreme shocks is needed to awaken us and remind us it can always get worse.

Just as brutal but not as malicious Elijah wood proves to be more than just stunt casting. He finally gets to make good on the promise he showed sin city.

The soundtrack is a beast all of it’s own. The score brings back memories of visuals as well as good enough for the audience to come up with their own visions to go with it. It truly does create an imaginative space in your mind if you listen to it separately.

I am not usually a fan of films that seem misogynistic where some are either victims or dirty and whorishly presented. The film tries to modernize it’s story and paint a better picture. It is still dark and vicious, with kind of the same thinking and presentation. As the final girl seeks to be the only female character treated fairly. So it tries to stay true while being it’s Own.

It’s a matter of what could have been or discovering complexities in what is there. As the film Tries to be deeper and less exploitive, but then adds a feature or experimental technique of most of the film being shot in a pov style to give it, it’s own identity and attraction, That works at times. It for the most part is questionable other then as a stunt. As it seems the filmmaker wants us to see the situations and film mostly from his eyes and psyche.

So since he is unreliable and sick we wonder if what we see is actually there or a manifestation of what he believes he sees. Which could have been used stronger at times.

What makes me not necessarily enjoy but keeps you interested is that the film seems so alive. It’s sleazy but also so designed that it seems to change on a dime into what it believes the audience wants while also trying to be artistic itself. It’s like the character a little self deluded.

This film is clearly controversial and can see why for some audiences the film might be polarizing


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