|Film review: Maniac|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Tuesday, 12 March 2013 10:29|
Director: Franck KhalfounWhen was the last time you walked home alone at night? Remember that date, because you won’t do it again after watching Maniac. The story of Frank (Wood), a serial killer with a mannequin obsession and a mummy complex to boot, Frank Khalfoun’s remake takes William Lustig’s premise and gives it a new lick of paint. Red paint. And lots of it.
But Maniac manages a rare thing among modern horror: it rises above mere gore to be genuinely horrific. A lot of that comes from its eerie first-person direction. Shot with elaborate flair by Frank Khalfoun, we spend a lot of time hunched over a steering wheel and hiding round corners – giving us a front seat when Frank gets knife happy,
The picture is at its creepiest, though, when Khalfoun deviates from his device: when our protagonist gets really upset, the camera floats away from his POV, Dutch-Tilting into a reflection of Elijah Wood’s angst-ridden face – think Frodo Baggins, just after Sam eats the last of their food.
At times, Wood’s shrieking sub-Norman Bates condition induces the odd giggle, but the boy-faced star throws himself into the role with demented believability. He’s helped by Alexandre Aja, Grégory Levasseur and C.A. Rosenberg’s script, which adds depth to what could have been a shallow grunge flick by introducing an actual female character in potential victim/love interest Anna (a likeable Nora Amezeder). Together, they whip up a surprisingly affecting romance that explores Frank’s tortured mind, without ever really revealing what’s real.
The whole thing is underscored by a menacing synth score from composer Rob. Turning Frank’s heartbeat into a pounding bass rhythm, the film’s use of sound is nastily effective, drowning our ears in intimidating noise before cutting off screams with a sickening squish.
Maniac’s assault on your senses creates a squeamish cinema experience that keeps you hooked even when you want to look away, and later leaves you looking back over you shoulder as you exit the cinema – and run to the nearest bus stop.