Remakes are nothing new, though it may seem in recent years as if the cinema has hosted little else. While historically they may have been made because the director had a vision for something different (The Thing, The Fly), lately they seem to be little more than a cash grab (Total Recall). Still another reason for remakes may be good old-fashioned nostalgia. That seems to be the case with Franck Khalfoun’s remake of the 1980 cult horror movie, Maniac.
Elijah Wood is cast likely as a contrast to his squeaky-clean image… if only he hadn’t done this kind of thing already with Sin City, Green Street Hooligans, going all the way back to the McCauley Culkin demon seed thriller, The Good Son. To further solidify his personification of homicide, he is given ratty facial hair and a social awkwardness that make his various victims’ attraction to him that much more unlikely. His Frank isn’t even particularly interested in covering his crimes, making him perhaps the most incompetent serial killer in history.
Khalfoun’s vision for this Maniac is to put the audience in the killer’s point of view for the majority of the film. It’s less a vision than a gimmick, however, as the technique is inconsistent and quickly grows tiresome. Still, the film manages an overall creepy tone. If there’s one thing Maniac does well, it’s capture a mood of dread and uneasiness that certainly feels 80s, and Wood’s high-pitched taunts and threats are an unsettling contrast to the brutal violence that follows.
Ultimately, Maniac lacks any real purpose than to provide fodder for those who like seeing helpless women get scalped. That’s not much to hang your movie on and instead of being disturbing, it simply becomes tedious.
See instead: Halloween (1978). While John Carpenter’s horror classic is admittedly showing its age, it nevertheless uses the point-of-view gimmick sparingly and to greater effect.