By Guest Reviewer Rebecca Barr
Though most well-known for his fresh-faced portrayal of hobbit Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings, Elijah Wood demonstrated he could also deliver crazy convincingly with his unnerving performance of cannibalistic serial killer Kevin in Sin City.
From 2012, Franck Khalfoun’s ‘Maniac’ is a modern remake of the slasher from 1980. Wood plays mannequin restorer Frank, a deeply disturbed man with violent impulses implied to be caused in part by traumatic childhood experiences.
Shot almost entirely from Frank’s point of view, the viewer gets a unique glimpse at the world from behind his eyes. The result is an intensely personal view that feels almost voyeuristic, an element that is enhanced by the accompanying sound of Frank’s ragged breathing and erratic narration. As Frank’s grip on reality loosens, the viewer is right there with him to experience the delusions and hallucinations that plague him.
As a woman, there is something deeply disturbing about the way Frank stalks his prey. His calm demeanor and methodical approach as he lurks in the shadows feels like a chillingly realistic interpretation of every woman’s worst nightmare. Using his boyish looks to lure his victims, Maniac harrowingly underlines the reality that murderous psychopathy can stealthily linger in the most innocuous of guises. The premise alone is enough to strike fear in the hearts of many, but Maniac also employs some stylish effects and gore. Beyond the blood, the grisly feature manages to remain visually charming - its captivating aesthetic complemented by a dazzling synth score.
For such a well-known face, we don’t actually see Wood too often. It’s an intriguing way of approaching the story that makes the viewer establish a connection with the character by walking in his shoes, even if we really don’t want to.
The simplicity will strike a chord of terror for many as Maniac plays out the scenario any women walking home alone at night will have imagined. Maniac poses the horrifying question - how do you avoid a Maniac when they look just like everyone else?