Film Festival review: Maniac

By Rachel Bache

Elijah Wood in the gruesome horror film 'Maniac'.
Elijah Wood in the gruesome horror film 'Maniac'.

To be honest, I was feeling quite anxious about seeing Maniac on the big screen, especially after learning that it has been banned from being shown in New Zealand after the Film Festival ... and probably for good reason. Maniac is a twisted and gruesome look into life of a psychotic serial killer.

From French director, Franck Khalfoun, Maniac follows the story of a mannequin shop owner, Frank (Elijah Wood) and his sadistic desire to stalk young women, brutally murder them and take their scalps. As the story unfolds, Frank meets Anna (Nora Arnezeder) a photographer who uses mannequins as a part of her art. Feeling especially drawn to her, Frank helps Anna with her art show, but of course, he has his own sick motivations.

The film wasn't so much scary as it was upsetting. There were moments of anticipation as Frank stalked his victims, but the graphic violence is a bit too much for some to stomach and a few people actually walked out of the cinema.

The most disturbing and intriguing aspect of this film is that it is shot almost completely in a 1st person point of view. The audience sees events unravel through the Franks eyes. You hear his heavy breathing as he creeps up behind oblivious woman and see his hands as he washes off the blood. Frank's face is only shown when he sees himself in the reflections or when he fantasises about Anna.

Elijah Wood does an amazing job playing a creepy killer, reminiscent of his Sin City character. It is particularly interesting getting glimpses of why Frank has the overwhelming urge to kill and seeing his schizophrenic inner turmoil.

Maniac is gripping from beginning to end and more intellectual than your average slasher flick. Horror junkies would love this film, as for me, it's maybe more gore than I can handle.

Stars: 3.5/5
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Cast: Nora Arnezeder, Elijah Wood
Running time: 89min
Rating: R18

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