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Maniac - Blu-ray Review

{2jtab: Movie Review}



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2 stars

It’s a tough order to do a slasher movie these days and bring anything remotely original to the subgenre after decades and thousands of attempts. Scream tried the self-aware approach to great acclaim, but really, despite all producer rhetoric to the contrary, one usually knows what’s in store when one sits down to watch this kind of flick. Credit has to be given then to the makers who try to deliver something unseen—and in the framework of a remake no less.

Franck Khalfoun's Maniac, a redo of William Lustig’s 1980 movie of the same name, is an attempt to see the whole film through the killer’s eyes. Now the killer POV has been around for a long time, but you never see Elijah Wood’s nut-bag unless in a reflection, and the film is told almost entirely through him for its duration. Does it bring something fresh?

Frank Zito, a sort of Norman Bates type with serious mother issues, is lamenting his existence and inability to be able to connect with a woman and not scalp and murder her. That is, until one day, a beautiful French photographer takes pictures of his mannequin store and the two strike up a friendship. Of course, nothing can stem Frank’s thirst to take another scalp, and slowly he begins to reveal his true nature to her.

The POV thing is definitely a different experience to most slasher movies. It’s a new kind of feel, and I don’t mean this as a compliment. You don’t ever get away from this guy, and he’s a truly unpleasant individual to spend an hour and a half with. Characterization is not as fully drawn as the pop psychology offered about his past would like you to think, and therefore being with him, and making that compelling, requires the skill of the actor to keep hold of you—he fails. Elijah Wood’s performance is not authentic enough for this film’s homage to realism. His performance sounds like a disembodied voiceover, and he is completely lost from having any psychological impact when the graphic violence, which is copious, begins.

The violence is tantamount to torture porn, really. There is a valid argument, considering we see everything from the killer’s eyes, that an authenticity and revulsion is achieved by experience what the killer does. But isn’t it far more interesting in these types of movies to experience some kind of suspense? Surprise? The film’s approach and its lead’s shortcomings rob it of any of this. It quickly becomes repetitious and predictable: we’re going to follow Frank stalk, pursue, and in some gut churning way, dispose of some hapless victim. Even the ending is telegraphed from the very beginning, because this guy is so over the top he’s destined to be discovered.

This is not as inspired an approach as it would like to be. Credit must be given for the attempt, but unfortunately the ingredients all mixed together make for a disgustingly off putting and inept slasher film that really adds nothing new to the horror franchise.

{2jtab: Film Details}

ManiacMPAA Rating: Not rated.
89 mins
: Franck Khalfoun
Writer: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, America Olivo
Genre: Horror | Thriller
I warned you not to go out tonight
Memorable Movie Quote: "So, what do you do? Are you an artist?"
IFC Midnight
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 21, 2013 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 15, 2013

Synopsis: Just when the streets seemed safe, a serial killer with a fetish for scalps is back and on the hunt. Frank is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna appears asking for his help with her new exhibition. As their friendship develops and Frank's obsession escalates, it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}


Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
2 stars

3 stars

Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 15, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Home Video Distributor:
Metrodome Distribution
English: 5.1 DTS HD MA
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Region Encoding: Region-free

This may be a low budget movie, but its video presentation is almost flawless. The crisp and sterile MPEG-4 AVC transfer delivers up the cold city nights, the bright sunny days and the repugnant gore all in a glorious consistent detail. No signs of noise or imperfections (although the film was shot digitally, so grain and specks etc. were not likely, were they?). Audio is even better than the picture and a major contributor to this film’s squirm factor. The Lossless DTS-HD 5.1 mix will give all channels a good workout and put you off your lunch as Frank does his gruesome work. Extras are bland short reflections on the making of the movie.



  • The studs responsible for this flesh-fest provide a pretty thorough commentary about the film. Director Alexandre Aja, Producer Grégory Levasseur, and Producer Alix Taylor provide the light-hearted analysis, knowing exactly what they are participating in: Spring Break fun.

Special Features:

  • Interviews
  • Trailer

{2jtab: Trailer}


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