The Beauty in Brutality – Maniac (2013) Review



It’s not very often a horror film carries a significant amount of positive hype on release, and not just from the usual suspects. Seasoned scribes at Empire and Total Film have given it the thumbs up, so for a fan such as myself expectations were higher than usual.

What we surprisingly get with this alternative take on William Lustig’s 1980 original gorefest, is a brutal yet beautifully crafted tale.

From the outset we see everything through protagonist Frank’s  (Elijah Wood) eyes, and within ten minutes of the first reel you know a bit of ketchup is on the menu shall we say.

The POV (Point of View) shot expertly used by John Carpenter in the original Halloween, and imitated so poorly in the slew of imitations since, is employed throughout meaning we get to see and almost feel the violence and death Frank is causing.

Let’s just say he has a fetish for women’s barnets……

It’s not quite as terrifying as The Silence of The Lambs, but Buffalo Bill’s grummy fingerprints are splattered across many frames here. None more so as Frank attacks a young lady, whilst Q Lazarrus’ Goodbye Horses from ‘that’ scene in Lambs.

Whilst the original Maniac revelled in the dirt, this version is much slicker and carries noir-ish qualities with its use of shadows, blinds and a truly fantastic synth score by Rob.

The soundtrack alone adds a European horror tone to the film, harking back to the Giallo-era of Italian horror such as Argento’s Suspiria, Demons and Tenebrae.

Make no mistake about it, Maniac is a brutal film, quite possibly the most violent and disturbing in years, but it oozes style as well as the red stuff.

Producer and Writer Alexandre Aja has covered the remake rounds before with his entertaining twisted turn for ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ in 2006, as well as the dumb but fun ‘Piranha 3D’. While staying true to its source material, Frank’s journey is updated to the modern era in his noir-ish downtown New York hell.

This could be Wood’s finest turn as the psychotic yet timid Frank, as he soundly pulls out the character’s unhinged persona perfectly.

His vocal tone is soft and understanding yet, his actions at times when the madness takes over are completely pyschotic.

His paranoia, fear and brutality are there for us all to see, yetworld outside of his mannequin shop, may see Frank as a doll himself. Devoid of any friends, family or outward emotion barring of course his thrill for the kill.

This is until he meets budding snapper Anna, who takes a shine to Frank after stumbling upon his ailing shop. Can she save Frank from himself or will she become another one of his dolls?

As long as you’re prepared for extreme violence, Maniac is a stylish trip into the inner workings of a psychopath which creates something slick, intriguing yet ultimately disturbing.


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