Monday, November 18, 2013

Maniac (2012)

I watched the original version of Maniac last spring in anticipation of the new remake coming out, based largely on its cult status. And I honestly couldn't tell you much of the details of the movie all these months later, although I did enjoy it. What I do remember is that it had the feel of an exploitation flick, sympathizing with the killer (rather than his victims), without attempting to make any kind of heavy-handed moral commentary, similar to the style of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (but maybe a little more fictionalized). I also remember that it had pretty good gore effects, and a bit of a surreal (but not at all unsatisfying) conclusion.

I was worried that they couldn't (or wouldn't) film such a morally ambiguous tale in this day and age, but I was pleased to discover that Maniac (2012) is surprisingly faithful to the spirit of the original. It made me uncomfortable, and gave me that feeling of wondering, "why would anyone make this movie?" Which is exactly what it's supposed to do. I was also concerned that Elijah Wood would be too attractive or too much of a celebrity to pull off the role of the lead, but he looks just rugged enough, and he does a great job of channeling the dull and detached exterior, but tortured and deranged interior of his character.

The movie is almost exclusively shot in first person perspective, with a liberal sprinkling of reflective surfaces to get Elijah's money's worth, and a few dream sequences that briefly enter the third person. It serves to effectively provide a terrifying look into not just the life, but the warped psyche of the titular maniac. His conversations with strangers (mostly beautiful women) are genuinely awkward, and the glimpses we get into the character's delusions (and the way the symptoms of his "migraines" affect him) are fascinating. The musical score (which almost recalls the days of Pink Floyd doing movie soundtracks) also greatly contributes to the eerie atmosphere of the film. If you liked the original Maniac, I think you'll be pleased with the new remake. It's a disturbing treat of a horror movie.

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