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As opposed to the original which was shot in the scummier parts of New York, hence adding to the dirty feel, this re-do was shot in LA and they made the most of that when it came to the imagery. It gave this update a different feel. At the same time, MANIAC made a bold choice; it told the bulk of its story through the Maniac's point of view. 95% of the time, we only get a look at the titular nut-job via reflections in windows and mirrors. That approach made the ride more appalling for me, as it put me in the shoes of the killer as he stalked and butchered these poor girls that were just trying to go about their freaking day. If it wasn't for the POV jive, I don't think the movie would have hit me as hard as it did.
And talk about solid casting! Elijah Wood as the psycho was definitely an interesting choice. Lets face it, he's better looking than Joe Spinnell, he comes off as harmless, therefore it made more sense that he would have no problemo picking up sexy gals. This retelling actually took a jab at the original at a certain point when a girl that Frank picked up said something like “You're not what I imagined, I thought you'd be fat with long greasy hair”, basically describing Joe Spinnell. I found that clever. Kudos to Elijah Wood for going against type here! When I initially heard of his casting, I thought WTF, but he sold me with his damaged, twisted, intense and blood lusting showcase. Other actors that stood out for me were Nora Arnezeder's as the loveable if not cock teasing Anna and America "I have no problem showing my boobies in films and we love you for it" Olivo as Frank's whore of a mother!
A special shout out goes to Megan Duffy as one of Frank's victims! Not only was she sexy, emanated a winning sweetness and was credible in the role, but there was also something about her that just leaped out of the screen and grabbed ya. Call it charm, call it the camera loving her, call it presence, not sure what it was, but she stood out and I will keep tabs on her from now on. Add to all that; an engaging retro techno score by composer Rob that I must own (I also esteemed the gnarly use of Good-bye Horses by Q. Lazzarus which was used in Silence of the Lambs), graphic gore galore (expertly conveyed by the geniuses at KNB) that will make you wince like Justin Bieber meeting my fist and moments of high tension that had me by the hacky-sack and you get an effective horror film, one that back-handed me hard! Ike Turner would be proud!
Any drawbacks? Nothing major. Suspension of disbelief had to be applied by my sorry ass when Frank, who restores mannequins meets Anna, who as luck would have it, is all about photographing mannequins. Okay. Found it a tad too convenient. And was I alone in wanting one particular character to get killed so bad, to then be let down when he didn't buy the farm? I will let you guess which one it was. The ending also didn’t fully full-fill me. Not sure what I was hoping for, but that wasn't it! As you can see, I don't have many complaints about this one. Yup, MANIAC was on top of its game on pretty much every echelon, so much so, that I will never, ever see it again! Once was enough! You in the mood to walk in a killer's shoes and scalp innocent gals with him? Bring this MANIAC home! He love you long time!