2) Maniac [6.5]

Just when the streets seemed safe, a serial killer with a fetish for scalps is back and on the hunt. A withdrawn owner of a mannequin store's life changes when a young artist appears asking for his help with her new exhibition.

Just when the streets seemed safe, a serial killer with a fetish for scalps is back and on the hunt. A withdrawn owner of a mannequin store’s life changes when a young artist appears asking for his help with her new exhibition. (2013)

Anchored by a creepy performance by Elijah Wood, the remake of Maniac is unique in its visual approach while sticking to a number of conventions of the horror genre. The majority of the film is shot in first person, an effective choice that never feels like a gimmick. Occasionally we’ll catch the lead looking in the mirror, and if emotion in the eyes drives a performance, than Wood does a fantastic job with what limited time he appears in front of the camera. His inner monologues occasionally veer towards cheesy, but through every whimper and squeal off camera, I bought into him as a crazed psycho killer.

The soundtrack is done by an artist that simply goes by “Rob”, and though it’s not very original (it often feels like Goblin’s work from the Argento era), the arpeggiating synths create an eerie atmosphere. There’s an homage to the song “Goodbye Horses” from Silence of The Lambs that’s a bit too on the nose, and one plot point is so similar to a pivotal part of Pyscho that it comes off as theft. If there’s one aspect other horror films should borrow from Maniac, it’s the application of the incredible gore FX. Some parts practical, some parts CGI, I couldn’t tell which was which throughout the movie (and that’s one of the bigger compliment you can give in that field).

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