Maniac (2012): A-
I love the original Maniac and this remake sticks close to the original subject matter and makes tasteful and interesting tweaks.
Elijah Wood plays Frank, a mentally ill mannequin restoration expert who gets his jollies by stalking, stabbing, and scalping young women. After he does these things, he puts the scalp on one of his mannequins like a cute little hat and has pervy conversations with them. He even sets them up in sexual positions and cries and punches mirrors and stuff. Why does he do these things? His mommy was a drug abusing, promiscuous, bad mommy whose bad behavior traumatized little Frank. Poor Frank! He develops a friendship with a non-mannequin photographer, who happens to be a young woman with a sexy scalp. This complicates things for Frank. But just a little.
Maniac is waaaaay better than Mannequin and Mannequin 2 in case you were wondering.
The movie is brutal as fuck. You get graphic scalping scenes and disturbing hallucinations. There is LOTS of loud screaming and begging. Some of the death scenes wander from the realm of slasher into torture-porn land. One of my favorite parts of the original was Frank’s demented mumbling. Wood pulls this off quite well and has some dissociative identity disorder style arguments with himself while he’s ripping off the tops of skulls. It’s especially chilling because he’s Elijah Wood, who still looks like he’s a little boy. There are also some shots/sequences that pay homage to the original film, so if you are a fucking NERD (like me) you can get your “I see what they did there!” ego-stroking horror lulz too.
The technical execution was very impressive and ambitious. The whole thing (literally 100%, except for the ending) is shot as the 1st person point-of-view of Frank. And it isn’t fucking corny or bouncing all over the place like a found-footage movie. The only time you see him is his reflection or a photo. The director said he wanted the audience to feel “trapped in [the killer’s] body.” You might think this would take away from the suspense of the film; the audience always knows where Frank is, so he can’t jump out and scare us. Maybe. However, it is a different breed of terror to experience his ecstasy and conflict as he stalks his victims and executes them. The CGI effects are limited and realistic. The make-up is fucking hideous and traumatizing. It made me yell.
The soundtrack is incredible. It’s a mixture of A Clockwork Orange, Drive, and John Carpenter synths. One of my friends likened it to Argento music, which I can hear too. It really worked as a compliment to 1st person stalking / murdering. It’ll make you want to bump it as you drive around staring at people. Or park under a neon sign and glare at yourself in the rear-view mirror.