Monday, May 20, 2013

Like He's Never Slashed Before

Ooooooooh, I been WAITIN' for this one.  The fuckin' French got this a year ago.  Damn French.  With their Eiffel Tower and their baguettes which, let's face it, are only good as weaponry.

ANYWAY, 1980's Maniac is considered a seminal grindhouse horror film.  2013's Maniac, directed by Franck Khalfoun, takes away the grindhouse and cranks it to eleven.


The movie starts with Frank Zito (Elijah Wood), the titular maniac, in his car, stalking a girl exiting a club.  But there's a twist.  We're watching it through his eyes.  We'll go over that later.

So, it turns out that Frank spends a lot of time on dating websites and just, y'know, trolling the streets for girls.  Yes, that's as creepy as it sounds and the reason why is creepier. 


See, his mom, who ran the mannequin restoration business that he currently owns, used to moonlight as a hooker and, occasionally, would take him along for the ride.  So, now, because he's so traumatized, he keeps trying to find girls that, like Psycho, will please dear, old mom.  But because lugging a body around would be cumbersome and draw attention, he just scalps them and be-wigs the mannequins in his collection with them.

You, ahhh... got a little somethin', there.

And then he meets a girl that he doesn't want to kill.
 
Awwww... She's all sweet and virginal and stuff.
 

Because this is so new, that's all you get.  Sorry.  Hate to be a buzzkill but this technically hasn't released to the American audience, yet, so I gots to keep my trap shut.  You understand, don't you?
 
Awwwww, now don't be that way.
 
I WILL say that by removing the suspense of "where's the killer", we, as the audience are forced to look at horror in a whole new way.  Yeah, the trick has been used before in films like Black Christmas but never to this extent.  Other than a few key scenes, the entire movie is shot from Frank's point of view and the madness that taints it is supremely evident.  And the movie isn't so much about seeing the killer, it's about hearing and feeling him.  Connecting with him on a level that film-goers rarely do.

The happiest day in a girl's life...

The one thing that will disturb audiences the most, though, is the choice of Elijah Wood as Frank.  Wood, throughout his career, is pretty much a "good guy".  Other than his voiceless role as Kevin in Sin City, Wood has always been "wide-eyed innocent" and Khalfoun uses that to creepy advantage.  Frank is still, in a shattered kind of way, an innocent.  It's even implied that he's a virgin.

I will warn the movie-going audience.  This is NOT a standard horror film.  It is a slow burn and it is, in its way, beautiful and dream-like.  Yes, there is gore and a lot of it but do not expect it to be a slashfest like, say, Texas Chainsaw.  This is more along the lines of American Psycho only there is no "is it happening only in his head" factor.

Highly recommended, this one.