Just when the streets seemed safe, a serial killer with a fetish for scalps is back and on the hunt in this 3D remake of the 1980 cult classic. Frank is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when he has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill.
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I've been sitting on Blue Underground's edition of the original for like a decade... i surmise now would be a good time as any to finally watch it, especially since i feel indifferent towards this remake... can't make up my mind if this is a two star or three star as a rating, regardless i won't ever watch this remake again to figure it out.
Similar to the way 2011's "Drive" utilized flashy neon colors and an airy synthesizer score to make audiences root for a violent psychopath, this remake of "Maniac" employs the same techniques - along with a free-floating, entirely subjective camera - to root us in the perspective of a deranged serial killer. This has the interesting side effect of making our 'protagonist' Frank more a figure of pity than fear.
Surprisingly watchable, considering how brutally depraved the subject matter is - and that the audience is forced to experience it entirely from a first-person perspective. It looked particularly nice too, though the performances were mostly wooden. There are some good decisions here but the POV gimmick and Elijah Wood are simply not enough to warrant a remake of a grotesque film that only existed to be grotesque.
Even though it doesn't quite match the robust filmmaking or nervy than nerve lead performance from the original, the movie still manages to be quite tense. The POV camera evoked found footage style but felt more like Dairo Argento in the way violence was orchestrated.
I haven't yet seen the original, but probably that's why I enjoyed this. No expectation, no comparison to be made -wait, there is, actually -this comes out having the same thematic approach with PEEPING TOM, only more dreadful, more perverse, and equally tragic.
Uses POV filmmaking to great effect, viscerally and thematically -- we are trapped with the psychologically-damaged killer, just as he is trapped with his violent compulsions. Profoundly disturbing and unshakable.
Even with a few stumbles and cliches along the way the plot feels more or less coherent, and this movie ends up owning you with its incredible soundtrack and strong visuals. I'm not sure if Elijah Wood was the right cast for this role, but I enjoyed watching the whole thing. I still haven't seen the original.