Director: Franck Khalfoun
Stars: Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, Jan Broberg, America Olivo, Liane Balaban, Morgane Slemp, Genevieve Alexandra, Megan Duffy
Maniac shouldn't be as great as it is—it's a serial killer movie starring the pint-sized dude who plays Frodo Baggins, directed by the filmmaker behind the lame 2007 parking garage thriller P2, and, on top of that, it's yet another horror remake. And yet.
With its simultaneously retro and haunting score, impressive use of first-person POV camerawork, and Wood's multi-layered performance as a perverse sociopath, Maniac hits on every possible level. Wood's character, Frank, stalks beautiful young women, murders them, scalps them, and then places their severed head-tops on mannequins…and, through it all, he remains impossibly sympathetic. Maniac isn't a slasher movie, or a monster movie, as much as it's an urban tragedy, one that, mind you, is sadistic and voyeuristic.
For genre fans looking for something special, though, it's also a nasty crowd-pleaser. It's rare to find a new horror film that's an audacious, form-bending exercise in style matched with, not placed over, substance. Maniac is exactly that.