Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Superior Remakes #4: Maniac (2013)

Maniac is a 2013 slasher remake of the 1980 film of the same name. Directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2) and produced by Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Piranha 3D) the film stars Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Nora Arneseder (Safe House). The film updates the sleazy 80s New York setting to a modern day Los Angeles.

Maniac centres around Frank, a mannequin restorer, and his psychotic impulses to stalk and kill women. Through flashback sequences we learn that he didn't exactly have the greatest mother and that this had somewhat of an impact on his hobby of scalping young attractive woman and, disturbingly, stapling the scalps to his beloved mannequins at home. However, when Frank meets photographer Anna (Arnezeder) he finds that he wants a relationship that goes a little bit further than stabbing and scalping but can he keep his murderous migraines in check and resist the urge to kill?

Maniac (like the original) is unique in that it tells the story completely from the perspective of the killer. Frank is the villain, albeit a sympathetic one, but he is also the protagonist and there is no heroic character or police detectives trying to hunt him down...there is just the killer and his victims. This is made all the more compelling by the genius use of the POV filming technique, we see the film literally through Frank's eyes and the camera doesn't turn away from the violence or the horror just as a real killer wouldn't be able to. This can have several different effects on you depending on your disposition but it can't be denied that it completely sucks you in and forces you to care about the character.

In addition to the POV style and striking visuals (clearly Aja's influence) there is a tremendous soundtrack to accompany the carnage from french producer Rob and is easily the best and most effective since the Cliff Martinez engineered soundtrack to Drive (2011). The contemporary French electro sound is perfectly suited to the movie, whether it be a pulsing stalking movement or a schizophrenic blend to echo the madness on screen. The violence in the film is sometimes graphic but always stylish and there is some creative stuff including a cheeky nod to Pet Sematary (1989)

The original Maniac was by no means a bad film but it was the perfect candidate for a remake, a low budget affair that was ripped apart by the censors but had some creative ideas but lacked the vision to realise it's full potential. Khalfoun and Aja are those visionaries and have created a instant horror classic that will only gather more cult status as time passes. For this critic it's the best horror film of 2013 and I really can't see anything having the balls or the penache to surpass the powerhouse that is Maniac!

***** 5 Stars

What did you think of Maniac? How does it compare to the original?


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