Sunday 10 March 2013

Maniac review

Maniac (18/R, 89 mins)
Director: Franck Khalfoun
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

1980 slasher Maniac gets the remake treatment with the added hook of a first person point of view, with the slaughter seen through the eyes of Elijah Wood’s killer. We only ever see him in reflection, and it’s a clever bit of casting to present an actor known for his cuddliness as a psychopath whose thing is to scalp his victims for wigs, Vincent Price style, for his mannequins. Maniac is certainly grotesque, and sometimes that’s all horror fans ask, but getting involved in this savage and scuzzy little film is harder. The arrival of a photographer whom Wood wants badly not to kill shakes things up a little, but it’s not enough to dispel the need for a point to his journey, and repetition sets in quickly. Ed Gein, Hannibal Lecter and more are the touchstones, but simply referencing them is not enough, and no real comment on audience voyeurism is offered in the way that Michael Haneke might. Where it does succeed is in making modern day Los Angeles look like hell on earth or, at the very least, New York in the 1970s, but that’s really not enough to hang an entire movie on.

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