MANIAC (2012) Reviews and overview

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Maniac is a 2012 American slasher horror film directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2; i-LIVEDAmityville: The Awakening) from a screenplay co-written by Alexandre Aja (High TensionThe Hills Have Eyes; Horns), Grégory Levasseur and C.A. Rosenburg.

The film is a remake of Maniac (1980) and stars Elijah Wood (The FacultyCooties; Open WindowsThe Last Witch Hunter) as Frank Zito, a disturbed individual who becomes a ruthless serial killer. Nora Arzeneder, Jan Broburg and America Olivo also star.


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 Frank is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna appears asking for his help with her new exhibition.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…

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“Though likely to be hard going at times for sensitive viewers, Maniac is definitely one of the best US horrors of the last year, and a brave, vividly nasty piece of work in the best possible way.” Beyond Hollywood

“So yes, of course – this is a remake of William Lustig’s original 1980 cult splatter-fest, but you can officially put the knives away: Khalfoun’s Maniac is as perfect a remake as Lustig’s creation could ever hope to receive.” Dread Central

“For some, the moral vacuum in which this plays out will prove insurmountable, and understandably so. Apathy virtually scalps empathy at every turn. For others, though, Maniac is a bit like watching an amputee play hopscotch: there’s no way that it’s polite to stare for this long, but you just have to see if this guy’s gonna make it to the end.” MTV News


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“Packed with sly little in-jokes for the horror fans and powered by a simply fantastic musical score by “Rob,” the new version of Maniac is a hard-ass horror film that also has some disconcertingly beautiful components. It’s a grimly in-depth character study of a man who nobody should get to know, and (if looked at from a certain angle) it sort of plays like a sly but insightful satire on romantic comedies.” The Horror Show

“Elijah Wood does an amazing job playing a creepy killer, reminiscent of his Sin City character. It is particularly interesting getting glimpses of why Frank has the overwhelming urge to kill and seeing his schizophrenic inner turmoil. Maniac is gripping from beginning to end and more intellectual than your average slasher flick.” New Zealand Herald

Maniac-2012-Nora- Arnezeder

“These French fear-makers want to bring us back the unapologetic shock-horror and splatter of the old days, but they can’t help wedding it all to avant-garde techniques and sensibilities that end up distancing us from such mundane things as tension and suspense. This Maniac isn’t a hollow travesty it was obviously made by folks who respect the original, and it’s nobody’s idea of a surefire big hit but it feels pointless just the same…”


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“Everything just falls into place here, from the performances to the sleaze-filled streets at night and the phenomenal, pulsing electronic soundtrack. Maniac is a film that will challenge you, shock you, and disturb and repel you. It not only respects the original (featuring a few appreciative nods, including a visual recreation of the original’s poster in reflection) but may easily stand head-and-shoulders alongside it.” Dread Central

“Holding it all together is the remarkable electronic soundtrack credited to, simply, Rob. Rather than just some bloke who’d popped in from the pub, Rob, it transpires, is Robin Coudert, keyboard player for Phoenix. The Maniac score ranges from woozy drones to mournful, emotive themes.” The Guardian


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Notable dialogue:

Frank: [to his first victim] “Please don’t scream. You’re beautiful.”

Lucie: “You are totally not what imagined.”
Frank: “Really? What did you imagine?”
Lucie: “Uh… fat, with long black hair and greasy skin full of acne.”
Frank: “You should see the other picture I was about to send.”

Cast and characters (in  credits order):

Nora Arnezeder … Anna
Brian Ames … First 80s Man
America Olivo … Frank’s Mother
Genevieve Alexandra … Jessica
Liane Balaban … Judy
Jan Broberg … Rita
Aaron Colom … Alley Man
Joshua Delagarza … Martin Nunez (as Joshua De La Garza)
Alex Diaz … Puppeteer #2
Megan Duffy … Lucie
Eli Dupont … Young Frank
Luis Fernandez-Gil … Waiter
Dan Hunter … Nick
Devra Korwin … Saleswoman
Akbar Kurtha … Pharmacist
Sal Landi … Police Chief
Bryan Lugo … Officer Burton
Mike McCarty … Puppeteer #1
Délé Ogundiran … Policewoman
Patrick Orr … Second 80s Man
Steffinnie Phrommany … Clubber Girl
Ron Reznik … Officer Norton
Mic Rodgers … Old Man
Sammi Rotibi … Jason
Rochelle Rudolph … Dancer #2
Gregory Taieb … Walker
Lauren Emily Vaughan … Dancer #1
Steven James Williams … Frank #2
Elijah Wood … Frank

Technical details:

89 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1


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