The Ninjabot

Week End Horror: Maniac (2012)

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm by Jess Hicks

As you may or may not know the awesome folks that run this site sent me to Horror Hound Weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio this past weekend. As with any convention there were celebrities, merchandise booths, people in costumes, and more. More importantly there were movies! The film I was most excited to see was the remake of the 1980 film, Maniac.

As I have mentioned before, I’m not really a fan of the original. It’s slow, poorly made, and the plot gets somewhat muddled (or maybe I just fell asleep?). Now, I’m usually no advocate for remakes but when I saw the trailer for this one I was pleasantly surprised. I was also confused by the decision to cast Elijah Wood as the scalp hunting serial killer. Now would be a good time to stop reading if you wish to avoid minor spoilers.


First a little synopsis: Basically the story centers on Frank, a lonely mannequin restorer. He lives in the shop that was left to him by his family and now spends his time stalking women and scalping them for his mannequins. And that is pretty much all you need to know about this film, if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea then I strongly suggest passing on it. I, however, thought it was fantastic.

In the original Frank is extremely unlikable  he has absolutely no redeeming qualities and we feel no sympathy for him. In this version Frank is still very crazy but we get more insight into his past and Wood conveys emotion extremely well through his voice. We hear the struggle in voice while he fights with himself to try and stop doing these awful things. In more surreal moments with the mannequins “coming to life” we get to see all of his inner demons spilled out in front of us.


One of the best aspects of the film is the POV camera style they use, we almost NEVER see Wood unless it is in a reflection of something or a flashback. If done incorrectly this technique could be really distracting but because Wood does such a good job using his voice to make the audience feel the way he wants it’s incredibly immersive. It also helps us forget that the main character is Elijah Wood for the most part. I like him but if I could have seen him the whole time I think he would have been distracting in the role.


Finally, the gore. The sweet nectar of the horror gods! I was so unbelievably grateful for the use of practical effect that I could barely control my excitement.  There aren’t buckets and buckets of blood but this is a film about a scalping serial killer so some gore was expected. Each scalp looked incredibly real that, at times, I cringed in disgust (that’s a good thing) which usually doesn’t happen to me.


It’s good to see that remakes and horror films can still be done well and aren’t completely made for the teenagers of today. If more filmmakers strive to do what this film did then I think we have a lot to look forward to in years to come.


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