Let me start off by saying this:
Very, VERY, rarely does a horror film, let alone ANY film, actually make me feel deep emotion. I connected with Elijah Wood's character, not because I had any experiences like his, but I just understood why he was the way he was.
As a writer, characters can be hard. Some characters are just all surface, like a vapid cheerleader in a slasher film, or some are just so deep that it goes beyond what a viewer should understand, an enigma split into a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, encased in a hundred foot tall Rubik's cube.
Frank Zito is indeed a complex character, but the film explains why very well.
I actually just finished this on Netflix and am currently listening to the soundtrack.
This film was a masterpiece from top to bottom. The above poster says "A Modern Horror Classic." How many times has that term been wasted on turds? In my experience, too damn many. It's almost a failsafe quote that is farted out when the reviewer has nothing else to say. However, in this instance, it is spot on. If I would've seen this at a festival, I would've jumped out of my chair for a standing ovation. I haven't felt this way about a modern horror film since House of the Devil. Of course there have been good horror films made recently, but not great. Maniac was great.
Maniac was shot mostly in first person view, which I absolutely loved! I don't know what it is, but I love first person. Loved it in The Blair Witch Project, (go ahead, haters, hate.) It's full on immersion into the life of the character. You experience what they do, when they do it. That is a HUGE difference from the original, as the original was shot very conventionally, (there is a term I am searching for, but right now, I can't pinpoint it).
Now, speaking of the original, Elijah Wood is no Joe Spinell, but that is a good thing. Joe Spinell looked like a Maniac, whereas Elijah Wood had deception on his side. No woman thought his angelic face was merely a mask hiding how demented he was. One character says, "You don't look how I expected... I thought you'd be fat, have acne scars, and greasy black hair." That gave me a chuckle, When I first saw the original I was like, "So no one thought this weird looking guy would slice up these women?" What can I say? I make snap judgements, and I am usually not that far off. The dude looked like a killer. I also really didn't understand what I had just finished watching. I was younger then, so when it ended, I was just like, "What the fuck did I just watch?" Yeah it was cool, but damn it was weird. Of course the Savini shotgun scene was the crown jewel for me...so awesome, but Maniac (2012) didn't need anything as elaborate as that. Yeah, it was violent, but in context, pretty tasteful and understated.
Elijah Wood nailed this role. I'm just glad they didn't get Ryan Goseling to play this part because, I may have just had to hunt him down for screwing it up because, he would have. The guy...CAN'T...ACT...sorry, just had to point that out. Elijah made me feel sympathy for Frank, the kid had a fucked up childhood and a fucked up whore of a mother. When things like that go unchecked, you run the risk going psycho. Like I said before, he had looks on his side. He was approachable. He lived in the back of a mannequin store, and that didn't bother anyone. No one was the wiser. Shit, it wasn't even weird.
The score by Robin Coudert, or on the album, he's just listed as Rob. The music was truly haunting and sad, chock full of despair, specifically, track 2 entitled, "Haunted." The soundtrack as a whole to me was like (now stay with me here): pieces of score from A Clockwork Orange, Neverending Story (specifically Swamps of Sadness), and Watchmen had a wicked orgy, then coupled with heavy eighties synth and a wee bit of industrial. The playing time is just over half an hour. I've already listened to it a few times today. It was very dark and emotional, and compelling, and conveyed all of Frank's actions and emotions completely. Almost like this could have played as a silent film.
This film was a masterpiece of modern filmmaking: It was pretty to look at, no unnecessary shaking camera, if there was any digital blood or anything like that, I couldn't spot it. They turned an 80's cult classic into modern art.
The film was just amazing.
5/5 scalps on a mannequin