Published Oct 17, 2013One thing you can be sure of in any Alexandre Aja screenplay: women will be silenced in the most horrifying ways possible. Knowing the director's proclivities, it's easy to understand why he was so eager to get involved with a remake of seedy semi-psychological '80s slasher Maniac. His updates to the idea of a serial killer with major mommy issues scalping women to provide wigs for his mannequin collection involve simple modernization, a first-person perspective and a switch to a sexually desirable psychopath. However, most of his effort has gone into creatively focusing Frank Zito's violence around the victims' ability to vocalize. That's the work of a very specific, sick imagination.
Elijah Wood stars as the deranged son of a crack whore (as we see in graphic flashbacks), whose nightly ritual involves the aforementioned activities, which he achieves via online dating and a little good old fashioned stalking. Ostensibly, the entire film unfolds from Frank's perspective. This conceit gives the movie what little personality it has (presumably to implicate the voyeuristic audience), but regrettably, director Khalfoun lacks the confidence or ingenuity to follow his rules. Utilizing flashbacks and other internalized fantasies or projections of perspective is admissible; scattering in the odd rote establishing shot is not.
At no point in the special features does anyone address these niggling issues. In fact, a commentary track with the director, Wood and executive producer Alix Taylor doesn't tackle much of anything. Instead, the trio spend their time exchanging anecdotes, discussing the tricky POV shots and making general observations about the architecture of the city they filmed in. A simply titled "Making Of" is comprised of typical behind-the-scenes footage and interviews in which everyone blows smoke up Aja's butt while he tries to justify his passion for the material without sounding too creepy. It doesn't work. Obligatory deleted scenes (the regular throwaway sort) and a poster gallery are also included.
Outside of some thoughtful cinematography and decent performances, there isn't much to enjoy about Maniac 2.0, unless you think a paper-thin analysis of extreme misogyny is justification for the indulgent visual representation of it. (M.O. Pictures)