- 1 hr 29 min
In the 2012 movie Maniac, Elijah Wood takes on the role of Frank, a mannequin shop owner with a deep-seated and disturbing mental illness. Frank has grown up with a traumatic childhood and now harbors an intense hatred for women, which he expresses through his obsession with scalp collecting. He meets Anna (Nora Arnezeder) when she comes into his store looking for a mannequin for an art exhibition. Frank becomes fixated on Anna and an eerie game of cat and mouse between the two begins. Director Franck Khalfoun executes a unique and unsettling cinematic experience in this reimaging of the 1980 classic slasher movie, Maniac. Khalfoun makes a bold choice to shoot the entire film in first-person perspective, which adds to the film's unnerving vibe. The audience is trapped inside Frank's mind as he stalks and murders his victims, which creates a sense of intimacy and eeriness with the character. One of the most notable aspects of Maniac is Elijah Wood's transformation into the troubled and sinister Frank. Known for his wholesome, boy-next-door appearance, Wood is almost unrecognizable in this role. His performance as Frank is chillingly nuanced, conveying both his psychopathy and his inner turmoil. His intense stares and erratic behavior create a sense of unease that sticks with the audience well after the credits have rolled. While the film's protagonist is undoubtedly a despicable character, the way that Khalfoun handles Frank's character arc is masterful. The director brings Frank's troubled past to the forefront and illustrates how his upbringing and childhood trauma have led him down a path of violence and destruction. Rather than simply presenting a caricature of a serial killer, Khalfoun's approach makes us empathize with Frank on some level without ever excusing his horrific actions. The supporting cast of Maniac is also impressive. Nora Arnezeder shines as Anna, Frank's object of obsession. Anna is depicted as an intelligent and independent woman, which serves as a stark contrast to Frank's fragile and vulnerable demeanor. The tension between the two is palpable, and Arnezeder's performance is a standout in a film filled with standout performances. America Olivo's portrayal of Frank's mother is also worth mentioning. Through a series of flashbacks, we see how Frank's relationship with his mother has shaped his world view and contributed to his ongoing mental torment. Olivo's performance is both heart-wrenching and terrifying, making her scenes some of the most memorable in the film. The film's score, composed by Rob and Robin, is another highlight. Combining synth and electronic elements, the score creates an unnerving and pulsating atmosphere. The music is integral to the film's pacing and builds tension in all the right places. One of the criticisms, albeit a minor one, of Maniac is the gore. The film's use of practical effects is impressive, but some scenes may be too gruesome for more squeamish viewers. However, the violence is always purposeful and never gratuitous, and the effects are so convincing that they add to the realism of the film. Overall, Maniac is a masterful psychological horror film that delivers on every level. The first-person perspective, Elijah Wood's performance, the supporting cast, the score, and the practical effects all work together to create a truly disturbing and unforgettable viewing experience. It's a film that explores the darkest corners of the human mind and how trauma can lead to unspeakable violence. If you're a fan of horror films, Maniac is an absolute must-see.