Synopsis: diminutive mummy’s boy Frank (Elijah Wood) lives alone above the shop where he restores vintage mannequins. As if his day job wasn’t bizarre enough, in his spare time, he stalks, slashes and scalps various unfortunate young women who cross his path.
What can I say? I’ll start with something positive and say stylistically this is quite an interesting film. It looks good visually and the hyper 80s synth music is great fun and it jolts and jangles along, helping to build the tension.
That’s about all I can say that’s remotely complimentary. The gimmick whereby we see everything from the killer’s point of view (think Peep Show but with less hilarity) is grating, especially in the beginning. It often feels clunky, particularly as we only get to see the killer when there’s a handy mirror or chrome-fronted toaster to hand.
In classic, somewhat lazy horror tradition the victim never seeks help or heads for a busy location when she realises she’s being stalked but instead runs off into the dark. You might as well go outside to investigate a strange noise. I mean, come on! I always think the only people who don’t watch horror films are the people in them.
Anyway, I digress… our maniac has some serious mummy issues which seem to be the root of his blood-lust (see Psycho if you want to see this particular story done well). [Spolier] Unable to reconcile his sexual urges with his childhood memories of seeing his dear old mum in flagrante with all and sundry, he murders and scalps his victims before dressing up his mannequins in their clothes. And hair.
Thanks to the first person POV, the murders are actually very hard to watch and, although I’m not normally squeamish (it’s only pretend, after all) I found myself cringing, turning away and willing it to end.
In terms of horror, I think I’ve found my limit and that limit is Maniac*
*Also see Wolf Creek (not literally, I don’t recommend watching that at all. It really is a tawdry piece of garbage).
In short, this is a deeply unpleasant, vicious and downright nasty little film. It feels exploitative and gratuitous, and by the end, I couldn’t wait to switch it off and have a shower.
Released: 2012 (the original version was made in 1980)
Running time: 89 minutes
Directed by: Franck Khalfoun
Starring: Elijah Wood