Maniac remake reviews have trickled in from the UK, and the critics are in unanimous agreement: it’s as stomach-churning as the original.
Filmmaker Franck Khalfoun, taking over for director William Lustig, decided to dramatize events using a first-person perspective told through the eyes and the narration of serial killer Frank, who kills his victims in horrible ways always taking a scalp for his collection of mannequins at home.
(Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood has stepped into the role originally played by Joe Spinnell of Rocky and Taxi Driver fame.)
Paul Gallagher of The List remarked that Khalfoun “increases the repellent-factor by virtue of a much higher gore budget” than the original.
Ultimately, he disapproved, stating that the film “ends up catering to the desires of a voyeuristic audience much more effectively than critiquing them.”
Phelim O’Neill of The Guardian agreed that the film was “nasty,” but had an altogether more positive outlook for it, calling it “smarter than your average Maniac,” referencing horror films that use the serial killer plot as a starting point.
O’Neill also called the 1980s-style synthesizer score “remarkable,” describing it as ranging from “woozy drones to mournful, emotive themes” and said ultimately the film was “a cut above most horror remakes.”
Jeff Allard of Shock Till You Drop agreed with The Guardian‘s positive take, granting the Maniac remake an 8 out of 10, commenting that the film is “an artier affair than the original but while it’s got a glossier sheen, it’s no less grisly.”
“Many scalps are removed and FX supervisor Matt Kutcher and his crew render Frank’s deeds in nigh unwatchable detail,” Allard wrote. “I know that some of what we see in Maniac must be CGI assisted but at least to my eyes, it’s almost impossible to detect where the practical FX ends and where the CGI begins.”
Allard also felt Khalfoun pulled off the first-person perspective, noting that Wood’s face is shown very little and usually with the assistance of images reflected in a mirror and other techniques that make use of the film’s context.
For Allard and O’Neill, experiencing the murders through the perspective of the killer was effectively unsettling.
Gallagher, however, found it over the top, stating it was “for viewers who would like to see lots of women, some of them naked, being strangled, stabbed, drowned, and, this killer’s particular favourite, scalped, in intense detail from the perspective of the one doing the damage.”
Maniac opens in the US in June and will join the Evil Dead remake as a second 1980s horror classic being reintroduced to modern audiences.
Are you excited for the Maniac remake, and what do you think of Elijah Wood in the part?