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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare remake that is worth it.
As a huge fan of the Joe Spinell original, I have to say I was more than impressed with this retelling of one of the more unique horror films from the 80's. I was more than skeptical about the POV style, and of any remakes lately, but Elijah Wood was fantastic as the tortured psychopath. The special effects were great, if you like some good, bloody slasher movie effects,...
Published 15 months ago by milesaugust100

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inside, Looking Out
MANIAC is the story of a crazy man. A maniac, if you will. Mentally ruined by a mother with, let's say, loose morals, Frank, our lead, spends most of his time restoring antique mannequins and the rest of his time struggling with lethal, sexual desires for women (and their hair). When Frank meets a young photographic artist named Anna, he tries to rise above his dark and...
Published 13 months ago by Mark Eremite


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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare remake that is worth it., September 9, 2013
This review is from: Maniac [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
As a huge fan of the Joe Spinell original, I have to say I was more than impressed with this retelling of one of the more unique horror films from the 80's. I was more than skeptical about the POV style, and of any remakes lately, but Elijah Wood was fantastic as the tortured psychopath. The special effects were great, if you like some good, bloody slasher movie effects, and the overall mood was dark and brooding, the way a slasher film should be. Highly recommended for the old school horror fan.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maniac is a haunting look through the eyes of a killer, November 4, 2013
This review is from: Maniac [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Franck Khalfoun's Maniac is a stylishly brutal horror film that wraps its bloody hands around your throat and never lets go. Khalfoun's remake centers around a serial killer with a fetish for scalps who is on the hunt. Frank is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna appears asking for his help with her new exhibition. As their friendship develops and Frank's obsession escalates, it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill.

Directors like Khalfoun are the reason why I'm notoriously optimistic when it comes to remakes. Maniac proves that you can inject terrifying new life into a story that has already been told and why we should be more accepting of remakes rather than write them off the moment they are announced. Yes, most fail. However, when they succeed, we get a film like Maniac and man is it one hell of a ride.

The film's strongest element as well as Khalfoun's most surprising approach to the film was shooting it almost entirely in the point of view of Elijah Wood's character Frank -- putting the audience in the mind of the killer. This tactic was truly terrifying and a fantastic way to experience a horror film. You often just hear the heavy breathing of Frank as he stalks his victims and all you can see is his trembling bloody hands. By shooting a film this way the director traps the audience in the body of a killer almost forcing you to do these horrible things with the Maniac. It's such a different way to experience a horror film but it really pays off in the end. Typically what makes a horror film scary is not knowing where the killer is or which corner he could be around next but that's not the case with Maniac because we know exactly where he is at all times, adding an entirely new element to the film. Sometimes knowing exactly where the monster is can be more terrifying than not knowing at all and that was certainly the case with Maniac.

Elijah Wood's gritty performance as Frank is absolutely haunting and unforgettable. The fact that we rarely see his face speaks volumes as to how great of an actor he is. We often only see his face through a reflection in a mirror and because it's such a rare moment to actually see the killer, Wood uses every second to his advantage by showing the deep pain in his eyes.

The film is an absolute blast for anyone willing to take a seat behind the eyes of a Maniac and the final moments of the film are utterly jaw dropping as it all comes crashing down in front of a few blood soaked mannequins.

Via - Rhinoshorror.com
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY fixed the streaming, June 21, 2013
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This review is from: Maniac (Amazon Instant Video)
I wish I read the reviews before I rented this. This is not the movie that is advertised in the title.

Edit:

The mixup has been FIXED so I was able to see the movie. Now to fix my rating with a proper review. This is a definite 5 star horror movie in my book.

The POV camera for the stalking/killing is very jarring (harkening back to the opening scene of Halloween). Paired with the somewhat retro soundtrack it gives a nostalgic feeling for old style slasher movies in a modern setting, and I think the movie itself is a solid entry into that genre. The violence in the movie is VERY graphic (and it does not shy away from it using quick cuts or other camera tricks), so gauge your own stomach before watching, but it is worth it in my opinion.

Like I said, definite 5 star on the movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inside, Looking Out, November 24, 2013
This review is from: Maniac [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
MANIAC is the story of a crazy man. A maniac, if you will. Mentally ruined by a mother with, let's say, loose morals, Frank, our lead, spends most of his time restoring antique mannequins and the rest of his time struggling with lethal, sexual desires for women (and their hair). When Frank meets a young photographic artist named Anna, he tries to rise above his dark and disturbing fetish, but things don't look good.

The film, ostensibly, stars Elijah Wood, although he's on-screen for barely a tenth of the film. The bulk of the movie is told from Frank's POV as he struggles with headaches, sex, and his love of scalps. Although the story isn't terribly detailed, its refusal to spell everything out makes for an enticing psychological portrayal. Unfortunately, the POV filming ends up having the opposite of what I assume was its intended effect. Rather than drawing the viewer inside of Frank, enmeshing the audience in his thoughts and deeds, the POV perspective ends up distancing us from Frank. They say the eyes are the window to the soul, and we spend 95% of the film staring out those windows from the other direction. As a result, we don't see Frank's soul as much as we see the destruction the soul creates. This makes the film feel cold and half-done.

Saved from being a total loss by a strong score and some pretty convincing special effects, the movie has its moments (especially its final, brutal scene), but these feel more like teasing glimpses at what the film could've been had it allowed the viewer a better view of our title character.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Grisly Remake That Offers A Unique Visual Perspective But Little Emotional Involvement, October 23, 2013
This review is from: Maniac [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Certain movies speak to a specific time or place and the 1980 horror slasher "Maniac" is one of those films. William Lustig's bleak portrait of a serial killer capitalized on the birth of the home video market to offer an underground movie experience to audiences who didn't typically have access to non-mainstream cult movies. For its time, it became a bona fide sensation. I'd maintain that it isn't a particularly good movie (and I've probably seen it a half dozen times and own it), but it was startlingly effective as a new breed of shocker. The early eighties were a thrilling time for independent films! The VHS explosion opened up a whole new world and made monster hits out of movies that otherwise would not have been so impactful with lesser availability. "The Evil Dead," for example, is one of the era's most sweeping success stories. Part of the appeal of the original "Maniac" is that it is a visceral movie, one that puts the viewer right into the middle of some rather unpleasant events. This remake maintains a chilly aloofness and captures events from a bold "killer's eye" viewpoint, but it simply lacks the horrific novelty of its predecessor. With another 30+ years of movie brutality in the can, the story behind "Maniac" doesn't have the same effect as it once did.

Beyond this observation, though, I will refrain from any other comparisons and simply look at this new iteration of "Maniac" on its own terms. Elijah Wood plays the titular character and he is, indeed, unwell. Fans of Wood might embrace this change-of-pace endeavor, but it should be noted that he isn't actually seen very often despite being in every frame of the movie. The whole experience is done with a creepy Point of View perspective, meaning that we're seeing through Wood's eyes. As far as plots go, Wood stalks a number of women throughout before pouncing in for the next brutal murder. Despite being (quite literally) in Wood's head, his character isn't developed in any depth (aside from the classic back story, told in brief flashbacks, that pins his compulsion on the acts of his mother). And we're also not asked to know anything about his victims or have any sympathy for them. When an attack occurs, we're simply left listening to Wood's panicked rants. While I found this approach rather interesting, the whole experience became a bit repetitive due to a lack of character involvement.

I think that's what I'm most apathetic about with "Maniac." I didn't think it was a terrible movie, but I simply didn't care much about what transpired. There isn't much suspense because there is no emotional investment. It doesn't help that most of the victims give rather amateurish performances either. Wood is creepy and effective in his voice work. The movie is shot and scored with a nod to its eighties heritage, and this homage works for the gritty violence depicted. The movie has a decent enough gore factor, but it's all so impersonal. At only ninety minutes, there isn't much story to maintain its brief running time. In the end, the movie was an interesting visual experiment for me. But because I never felt close to Wood or his victims AND never really felt the palpable dread that I desired, I can't muster up an unqualified endorsement. If you like the genre, you might give this a look. But it's not nearly as horrifying as it might have been. KGHarris, 10/13.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, June 26, 2013
This review is from: Maniac (Amazon Instant Video)
Awesome remake with great throwbacks, cool pov to really put you in the killer's mindset. Suspenseful and definitely worthy of a rewatch. Nice gore too.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film and amazing soundtrack!, June 29, 2013
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This review is from: Maniac (Amazon Instant Video)
Don't let the negative nancy reviews from this movie stop you from renting this movie, if you are looking for an amazing visual horror/thriller film with a very memorable soundtrack that ties the movie EXTREMELY well, then check out this movie! Also, if you saw Elijah Woods in "Sin City" and loved his character in that movie, then you can expect even more amazing performance by Woods in this Maniac movie as well.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh yeah! Insta-classic, November 7, 2013
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This review is from: Maniac (DVD)
I should not be typing this: I should be re-watching this instant classic. To those concerned parties, do not be, but, if you still are, watch this director's work in P2. I feel your opinion of that will represent the bulk of how you feel about this one. That is not to say that they are derivative. I am simply saying that the style is similar, though the addition of Wood's phenomenal portrayal and the soundtrack ripped straight from the 1980 original definitely tip the scale. To chime in on the debate, this movie is similar, but very dissimilar from the original. I would classify this as a re-boot versus a remake. Stop comparing it to the original and respect what both directors and both lead actors brought to their respective film. You will enjoy the gruesome, awkward, troubling journey that is the Manac.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUCH! OOOOOH! OH MY GOD!, September 8, 2013
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This review is from: Maniac [HD] (Amazon Instant Video)
This is a radical trip of hard core violence and we walk in the maniac's shoes. Elijah Wood plays it just right. Toned down and self-programmed to wear a mask of sanity, he is lives in a secret world of manikins. When he does venture out into our world we see what he sees and there is almost a smooth and sweet quality to the character. As we inhabit his body, it becomes clear the character has a limited time before the mask drops off and his true nature breaks free with ferocity.

The first act of violence is wild and I wondered if this was going to be a film with a repetitive feel, if it was going to be just a body count. But, the character just gets crazier and weirder and each killing is more shocking than the last. There is no speed limit here. When a bitchy agent picks at his peculiarity, she is oblivious to his dark side and laughs at him, forgetting that sometimes the old adage is true- if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. Her horrible fate is cued by "Ave Maria", filmdom's favorite music-to-murder-by . It the single best pairing EVER of opera and gore.

Hands down the best serial killer horror movie in a decade. But, I'm warning you now- I can watch anything in this genre and this one had me holding my hands in front of my face and glancing through my fingers, just to steel myself against what was coming next. Just for insane kicks, the final scene comes swinging out of far left field like a wrecking ball.

On a scale of 1-10, MANIAC IS A WOW!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MANIAC Is A Tale Told Of Descent ... And Not The Usual Cheap Thrills, October 24, 2013
This review is from: Maniac (DVD)
Sorry, folks, but I couldn’t tell you anything off the top of my head about the 1980 original of MANIAC. In fact, I’m not entirely certain that I’ve seen it. I suspect – based on what I’ve read – if I had I’d remember it, but let me also confess that my mind isn’t as fertile as it once was. In any event, if you’re looking for some intellectual comparison between ‘then’ and ‘now,’ I’ll not be able to provide it. What I can tell you is that coming into MANIC (2012) with very little foreknowledge of what to expect probably helped my critical take on the film; had I known in any way what I’ll discuss below, I can tell you I most likely might’ve taken away a slightly different impression than I did.

In other words, knowing as little as possible about this one might increase the entertainment factor; I stand by that especially when it comes to knowing what I know now about the film’s unique narrative viewpoint. So, seriously, if you don’t want to be spoiled about cinema techniques, turn away now. Otherwise, you know the drill.

(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)

Frank (played by the perennially fresh-faced Elijah Wood) lives a life restoring antique department store mannequins to their former beauty and glory, but, underneath that innocent exterior, he’s harboring a dark secret indeed. In truth, he’s a cold-blooded killer, one raised by a mother who wasn’t quite the maternal type but instead exposed him to some of her own curiously ribald obsessions. As a consequence, Frank’s grown into a young man troubled by visions he controls through medication. It’s when he’s off his meds that his true nature comes to life, and that’s when he’s more alive by robbing the beautiful women he comes into contact with of their lives.

It’d be easy to dismiss MANIAC as just another slasher film. Heck, one might even make a solid case for the fact that hiring the constantly doe-eyed Wood as a deranged lunatic is little more than stunt casting, hoping that bringing in some talent clearly ‘across-type’ might fuel greater interest in one’s picture. However, that’d be a serious disservice to what director Franck Khalfoun and screenwriter Alexandre Aja have accomplished here; this is a deftly constructed flick, one that relies on pulling the audience in through clever camera trickery as almost all of this is captured (artistically) in a first person recording. You see the tale unfold as it does from the killer’s eyes – through whatever prism Frank has in his head, with occasionally even the spoken words of what he’s thinking as he goes about his day – and while this certainly isn’t the first film to use that device it may end up being one of the finer examples of it.

I’ve read that Wood fans were increasingly dissatisfied with the picture because despite his prominent appearance in the advertising and packaging he legitimately gets very little screen time. What you do see of him is fleeting – there he is reflected in a mirror over here, and there’s his face faintly in a glass over there, and whoopsy daisy that TV-mounted video camera captured his awe-struck expression as he considers the blood on his body. As a consequent, his fans are understandably disappointed; they showed up hoping to see the Woodster turn in a virtuoso performance of one man’s descent into his self-made nightmare. That happens, mind you, but not by way of Wood’s usual stripes; it happens by the narrative.

Consider this: this MANIAC is a twisted tale told by the camera and not necessarily by the main actor. True, Wood’s costars get vastly more screen time than he does – even his least significant victims – but that’s because they’re really the threads in this unique tapestry. Wood is on display when it matters most to the story, and he’s definitely there to suffer his character’s grand comeuppance in the closing moments.

So if you want a horror story, then this is a good one. If you think you’re being treated to the latest Elijah Wood tour de force, then you’re likely to come away jaded.

MANIAC (2012) is produced by La Petite Reine, Studio 37, Canal+, Cine+, and Blue Underground. DVD distribution is being handled through MPI Media Group on behalf of IFC Midnight. As for the technical specifications, the film looks and sounds impressive consistently with all of the in-camera and post- effects looking exceptional. For those folks who truly dive into the extras, there’s a solid handful here that should keep you happy, including an hour-long ‘Making Of’ documentary, deleted scenes, a poster gallery, the theatrical trailer, and an impressive commentary track from Elijah Wood, director Franck Khalfoun, and executive producer Alix Taylor. Well done, folks, very well done.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. As remakes go, MANIAC is impressive but, as horror films go, it likely won’t please everyone. I suspect that’s because this as much a stylish creation as it is a psychological exploration into one man’s rapidly decreasing spiral into his own, personal Hell. Methinks most folks flock to horror flicks for the glee of the experience – the pure delight in being scared silly – and while MANIAC has some impressive turns in that regard this leans heavily toward a character study. Plus, I have to wonder if the largely first person perspective turns off as many viewers as it excites. Think of it as a horror film for the eclectic or even artsy crowd, and you may enjoy this one more than most. I know I did.

In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at MPI Media Group and IFC Midnight provided me with a DVD copy of MANIAC by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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Maniac [Blu-ray]
Maniac [Blu-ray] by Franck Khalfoun (Blu-ray - 2013)
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