Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Movie Review—Maniac

It's one thing to cast Elijah Wood, best known of course for his portrayal of Frodo Baggins, as a stone-cold evil maniac of a serial killer. This movie, aptly titled Maniac, goes one step further. Nearly the entire movie is filmed from the point of view of the killer as he stalks his victims one by one to collect their scalps for his collection of mannequins in an attempt to replace the loss of his horrific and horrible but recently-deceased mother. There's some really impressive camera work here, to be sure, especially in the shots where you see direct-on views of the killer's reflections in mirrors and windows and the like, and the few points where the camera pans away from the killer's POV are really effective in giving you a moment to observe what's going on in a more standard way. They're like gasps for air, in a way, these opportunities to step out of a killer's body, especially since these tend to occur at the more violent or creepy points in the movie.

There's not an awful lot in the way of plot in this movie—it's pretty much all about the killer's methodical collection of victims while he tries to juggle a growing for-real relationship with a woman who wants to use his mannequins for her photography (the ones he restores, not the ones he keeps secret in his bedroom with scalps stapled to their heads). Of course, as one might expect, keeping your serial killing separate from your love life is a recipe for disaster, and eventually these two worlds collide in a relatively spectacular chase sequence. The two main characters—the serial killer and his would-be girlfriend—are relatively interesting, and the special effects are realistic and horrific and well done, but in the end it's the unique POV of the camerawork that is Maniac's real star.
Lord of the Rings would have been a very different movie had this been Frodo...

Maniac is ...
  • ... yet another excellent example of how creepy mannequins are.
  • ... a remake, but I've not seen the original so I can't say if this is better or worse.
  • ... proves that as violent as a movie can be, filming the violence from the POV of the perpetrator makes it all the more disturbing. It's pretty hard to watch at times.
  • ... has a lengthy scene that features the song "Good-Bye Horses," that, much like its use in The Silence of the Lambs, does an unsettling job of making an already creepy scene even more so.
  • ... will change how you see Elijah Wood as an actor... he pulls off the serial killer really, really well!
Grade: B+

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