Notable Cast: Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder
While I still consistently hear people bitch about remakes and reboots, there are occasionally remakes that impress. The most recent one is "Maniac," a combined French and American effort as a modernization of the 1980 cult slasher classic. While the original film earned its merits with strong special effects and the clever idea of having our slasher 'maniac' as the protagonist of the film, this remake takes the film to some intriguing new territory without ever losing the heart of what made the original a classic. It's then crafted with such an impressive execution that instead of comparing it throughout, I was completely engrossed with it.
As ironic as it is, many of those great remakes have Alexander Aja's name attached to them. In the case of this film, Aja only appears as co-writer and producer rather than director, but his touch can be felt in the deep atmosphere and extreme violence. It helps that his frequent collaborator Franck Khalfoun is the director who ably runs with the entire concept at full speed and throws himself into creating the gimmick of the film's visuals with intensity.
|The stare just might be scarier...|
From there, Khalfoun and Aja cake the film in that modern French horror concept of excessive atmosphere and excessive violence. Lots of effective lighting, a brilliant throwback synth score, properly spaced dialogue, and strong visuals build up a dense and often suffocating atmosphere and in true modern French horror style, "Maniac" uses brutal and visceral violence to break the tension. There are many moments that are truly cringe worthy (both with creepiness and in full on special effects focused violence) that even a hardcore horror fan like myself had to hold my breath. Scalping has surely never looked so real.
|The hellish hands.|
Written By Matt Reifschneider