184) Maniac (2012)
As he helps a young artist with her upcoming exhibition, the owner of a mannequin shop’s deadly, suppressed desires come to the surface.
9/10 – This French-American serial killer film is unique for many reasons. For starters, it stars Elijah Wood, best known for his role as Frodo, his work on Happy Feet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sin City, Green Street (that terrible football hooligan film he did). Varied films, but not typical serial killer material. Do not be mislead by his casting in this film, it is every bit as disgusting as you expect a slasher film to be, and he strangely fits this role to a tee. His weird child-like voice rambling away as he scalps women, it’s unsettling and brilliant at the same time.
The entire film is shot from his POV. I think I’m safe in saying this is the first time this has been done. We only get glimpses of him in reflections, or on camera, and at some stage in the midst of a kill. I guess you could say at that moment he was having an outer-body experience, either way, it made the kill in question (the basis for the poster I chose) even more disgusting. It’s a strange sensation, it’s not like we became the killer, it just meant that the element of surprise had been greatly reduced. We’re used to following the victim, not knowing where the killer is. Now we see the victim, and the killer too. If anything, it creates constant unease throughout.
The score on this film is sensational, from tweaky synthesizer medleys similar to that of ‘Drive’ or Mr Oizo’s work on ‘Rubber’, blended with the odd piece of opera, it adds so much to the films creepiness and sinister vibe.
It is gory. There’s no getting around this, but then that’s what murder is if you do it like this. It’s brutal. People have apparently fainted, thrown up and walked out of the cinema screenings. It made me feel ill, and I’m fairly desensitized to films like this. The director Franck Khalfoun explained that this was intentional;
“The movie had to creep on you – it’s a different kind of fear; it’s more of a nauseating fear. You really have the opportunity to maybe feel the [nausea] of committing crime rather than glorifying it just for the aspect of fun and thrill. The audience gets to experience for the first time how sick [it is to commit murder] – we’re certainly not condoning it, but making a real statement about serial killers.”
Initially I thought it was ridiculous that Wood’s character had been able to get away with so much, but unlike other horror/slasher films, we’re not presented with the police perspective. What’s to say that they weren’t investigating the killer the entire film, and he was just that elusive? It’s a unique, stomach turning, and very violent film. A must watch for anyone looking for something different, or a fan of horror in general. A really surreal experience.
Thanks, A Year In Film for the suggestion.