Franck Khalfoun’s stunning Maniac remake hit limited cinemas on Friday 15th March, and while the film contains countless pretty freakin awesome death scenes, due to it just being released, I felt it best to pick the very first kill. Clearly this is to avoid any unnecessary spoilers, but also the first kill (which happens within the first six minutes) sets up the tone and visual style of the film which sets it so far apart from other similar genre movies.
With remakes actually starting to raise the bar these days, with some actually being better than the originals (The Hills Have Eyes, I Spit on Your Grave) and many at least matching the original, Khalfoun has delivered something of a master stroke. He has stayed true to the originals origins, added in a few moments that will have fans of the original cheering it on (a particular scene involving a reflection on a car caused a massive cheer at FrightFest) but he also did something completely new and quite brilliant. Khalfoun’s Maniac not only cast a chilling and very impressive Elijah Wood in the role of Frank, but the entire film is seen through the killers eyes. Apart from just two scenes, the only time we see Frank is through his own reflection. This makes Maniac a unique, terrifying and powerful movie experience, and it really allows you to get inside Frank’s head and quite literally, see what he see’s. It is not pleasant.
The opening scene begins as we are thrown right into the nightmare as Frank is sat in his car waiting for his next victim. We watch as he waits, patiently, until his target appears, a woman whom he has been following for days. At first it appears like we are spying, and as the girl leaves a nightclub and is confronted by a stranger, we suddenly realise that WE are Frank. His voice rings deep and cold “leave her alone”, and suddenly Maniac has taken on a disturbing style, and a new way to tell a horror story. We then become the killer, and we join Frank as he follows her home. We get our first glimpse of Frank in his car mirror, and all we see for now are those haunting, cold and dark eyes, cue ultra cool electro 80’s style music that sets the tone, and pays homage perfectly to the original classic.
We enter the girls apartment block, and we cut the power to her floor and wait in the shadows for her return. We, the viewer, sneak up behind her in the dark, she turns around and Frank’s chilling words “please don’t scream” will shatter your nerves, and what follows is a vicious, incredibly well shot simple kill. Sadly though, the clip does not run long enough to show the eventual scalping, but it does gives a good idea of just how the film will play out. Dark, chilling, utterly disturbing, and Khalfoun has created some of the most horrific stabbing sounds I have ever heard in a horror film. Form here on, every slice, stab and act of violence is perfectly executed with impeccable sound effects that will truly make you shudder and wince in the cinema.
Maniac is a film of enormous power, and is one which is guaranteed to achieve cult status not only among the horror genre, but of arthouse fans too. Maniac is one of those rarities in horror these days, it is special and brings something new to the genre. Granted it will be hard to stomach, even for those with nerves of steal, but that is what horror is all about, pushing the viewer to their absolute limits, and Maniac does that. In fact, Maniac pushes you over those limits, and these opening six minutes will give you a good idea of what to expect if you haven’t seen it yet, and will give you a chilling reminder of how good it was if you have seen it. This is a film that will have audiences leaving the cinema shaken, probably not able to talk about what they have just witnessed on screen. Trust me though, talking is good, you don’t want this film clogging up your thoughts, it is too harrowing (meant in the nicest way possible)…
Read my review here