Maniac – Film Review
As soon as I saw Alexandre Aja was involved, I was in.
It’s not his best work, but it’ll do.
TL;DR Maniac is dark, violent, and merciless. It’s also absurd, self-indulgent, and stewing with pseudo psychology. But who doesn’t wanna see Elijah wood hack and slash some people? 3 out of 5 stars.
It’s the way LOTR should have ended. Gollum ain’t shit.
The plot is a first person view of Elijah Wood’s (the titular maniac) serial killing exploits. He has some hardcore mummy issues (she was a prostitute who didn’t give a fuck about her son seeing her do it), so he kills and scalps women and puts their scalps onto mannequins (his mother was also a mannequin restorer, as is Elijah) to make believe he has girlfriends or something. Things get complicated when he meets a cool, French artist chick who takes an interest in his mannequin shop. He grows attached to her, but his killer instinct is too strong. Everyone ends up dead, including Elijah himself, after he is stabbed by Frenchie while she’s trying to (unsuccessfully) escape.
She puts in a damn good effort, though.
Maniac is about as artsy as I’m willing to allow for my slasher movies. The persistent first person view is a nice change from the norm (like Silent House‘s “one long shot”), and the blood is not spared.
But mummy issues are on the same shit-tier as daddy issues, and you know how much I hate those. Oh well.
Why I hate this movie:
I know mummy and daddy influence our lives and the way we think, but I’m getting tired of “I had a bad relationship with mummy/daddy. Better go kill some people.” Over it, honey.
This also feels like a step back for Alexandre Aja. I know he didn’t direct this one, but he did write and produce it. P2, his other “I didn’t direct it, but I produced and wrote it” movie was even better than this, and it’s the weakest one of Aja’s pieces I’ve seen. Any Aja is better than no Aja, though.
Some of the gore is too plasticine-y. The first girl you see Elijah attack is scalped from a tap on the forehead with the knife. I haven’t seen such stupid gore since The Human Centipede 2.
Restoring vintage mannequins is a job that earns you enough money to not be homeless?
Frenchie is an uber cock-tease. And it’s not just the French accent, bitch be flirting (and she already has a boyfriend). Say no to cock-teasing, everyone.
She takes him for a date and everything. Douchebag.
Near the end, Frenchie is on the run from Elijah and she gets picked up by a good samaritan. Instead of, you know, driving off, he tries to immediately run down Elijah. This is dumb for 2 reasons: 1) it didn’t take him much convincing to try to murder a stranger, just off the word of some hysterical other stranger; and 2) he fucking crashes, which ends up with his and Frenchie’s deaths. Ludicrous.
Oh, and Elijah dies from his wounds, but we see him imagining all his victims attacking him and tearing his flesh off. Silly.
But it’s not all bad:
You can’t fault the effects in that scene, though. I didn’t have “see Elijah Wood get his face literally ripped off by the hands of angry women” on my bucket list, but if I had, it’d be crossed off.
The killing of Frenchie’s snobby agent is the best death of the movie. After she insults his mannequins, he follows her home and suffocates her. She wakes up naked and hog tied. Elijah then projects his mummy issues onto her and starts cutting up her back. This culminates in him scalping her alive, and they show you. Gorgeous.
Actually, apart from the opening scalping, the gore is fucking brilliant.
The killing of the dancer isn’t the best death scene, but is the best kill overall. He chases her from the train and ends up with her in a deserted car park. It shows him stabbing her repeatedly (remember, all from first person view), and unlike most slasher movies, she doesn’t gracefully drop dead immediately. She screams and squirms and struggles through all of it. Probably the most confronting slasher death I’ve seen in a long time.
Dancer gets best line of the movie when she’s trying to outrun Elijah in the train station: “What the fuck? Where is everyone!?” I know, right?
Oh, and Frenchie does an admirable job of fighting back. She figures Elijah out and tries to barricade herself from him. She also stabs him through the hand, and in the stomach, which is what he dies from. And if it weren’t for our unluckily insane good samaritan, she would have gotten away.
Like I said: any Aja is better than no Aja. And the violence is superb and the acting isn’t crap. If only it had a plot. 3 out of 5 stars.