maniac | remake | franck khalfoun | alexandre aja | gregory levasseur | Grégory Levasseur | elijah wood | nora arnezeder | america olivo | france | united states | megan duffy | psychopath | sociopath | genevieve alexandra | liane balaban | jan broberg
Director: Franck Khalfoun
Writer: Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur
Starring: Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder and America Olivo
This film starts out with two women leaving a club. One of them is played by Liane Balaban Her friend grabs a cab and she waits for the next one. A guy hits on her, trying to get her to leave in a limo and we hear breathing. We see all of this from the eyes of Elijah Wood. She flees, still looking for a cab and she sees Wood’s slow moving truck following her, she runs away.
Wood knows where she lives and cuts off the power in her building. Balaban talks on the phone to her friend when she gets to her apartment door. She hears Wood behind her and before she can scream, he stabs her under her jaw. He then scalps her.
Wood wakes up the next day and is using a dating website. He is looking at Balaban’s profile and closes it for the next one. He hits it off with her in a chat and they setup a date. The woman is played by Megan Duffy. They have fun, but we see some of the weirdness of Wood. He is afflicted with migraines. When they come on, it gets brighter and there is a loud tone. He goes into the bathroom and takes medicine for it.
Wood drives Duffy home and she invites him up. She pours him a drink, and then gets undressed. Wood isn’t used to it and tries to leave, but she gets him into her bed. She starts to perform oral sex, but he chokes her. He climbs on top of her until she dies. He scalps her as well.
We learn that he runs a mannequin shop. He brings home the scalp he just cut off and then staples it to one of the mannequins. He also puts a lip-ring on it like Duffy had. We also learn that he loses touch with reality as the mannequin becomes Duffy and talks to him. We also see that another mannequin is wearing Balaban’s dress and has hair on it too.
The next morning Wood notices a woman taking pictures. He opens up the rest of his shutter and she apologizes. The woman is played by Nora Arnezeder. She is an artist and she takes pictures of mannequins. She is fascinated by Wood’s shop and wants to use his mannequins in her upcoming show. She befriends Wood him in the process.
Wood goes on the prowl and stalks a dancer, Genevieve Alexandra. He watches her undress and then follows her as she gets on the subway. When she gets off, he continues after her and chases her to a parking lot. There’s only one way out and he rigs it to not open. He hides under a car and then kills her when she gets close. He takes her scalp as well.
Wood then begins to hang out with Arnezeder. He watches her at her gallery and calls her. We learn that he had given her a necklace. Together they go to a movie and afterward her boyfriend calls. She is going to meet him for a drink and he should come too. He declines, clearly bothered by this information.
We also learn that Wood’s mother was a prostitute; she is played by America Olivo. She ran the mannequin store, but would have sex with men while Wood’s was a child, the child version played by Eli Dupont. This really messed him up and he is trying to get her to stop going out by killing young women.
Wood goes to Arnezeder’s show and meets her boyfriend; he is played by Sammi Rotibi. He is mean to Wood in the bathroom. Wood also meets Arnezeder’s agent, played by Jan Broberg. She is also rude to Wood. Wood follows her home and makes her part of his collection.
Wood calls Arnezeder about getting back his mannequins, but she answers crying. Broberg was found dead and she is distraught. He tells her he will come keep her company. What will he do? Will he kill her too or will he be able to control it? Will Arnezeder discover who he is before it is too late?
I really liked this movie. I really liked the realism of it first and foremost. The reason of his mother is clearly seen and highly believable for what he is doing. Olivo has beautiful hair and it makes sense that was his favorite part of her. All the women he goes after have great hair as well. The only issue with this realism though is that he kills them in different ways, with the knife being used the most. I believe most serial killers use one way to kill them and continue to do it the same way as a ritual. I also loved this film’s use of mirrors. Highly creative and makes some great scenes.
Now an issue I had was that the camera shows us everything from the eyes of Wood. They have to use mirrors a lot to see what Wood is looking like and seeing what his reaction to things. I like to see acting from characters, especially those that don’t talk a lot like Wood does to see their facial expression. Body language is a big part of acting and I think the choice to look through his eyes loses that.
With that said, I really liked this film. I think Wood is great in his role and actually Arnezeder plays an interesting role at being attracted to this weird individual with a terrible secret. I think his victims were great at their roles. I also want to say that the music was fantastic. The story isn’t overly deep, but it doesn’t have to be and there’s enough there to move it along. If you can get past the first-person angle, then I would recommend giving it a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10