November 29, 2021

Where’d Ya Go? And Maniac (2012)!

Maniac.Obviously my goal of 30 in 30 – 30 movies in 30 days – is falling way short. In fact, I’ve been absent for a while, but I have a good reason! The Husband and I are the proud parents of five boys, and we recently entrusted the United States Navy with Son #2. He’s at boot camp right now, and I have to admit I haven’t handled his leaving as well as The Husband has. The Husband is super proud, and I’m kind of a mess. I’ve been down in the dumps and haven’t felt like doing a whole lot. But Son #2 wouldn’t like knowing that his mom is back home being a bum, and The Husband pointed out (He’s a really smart guy!) that most of us are sort of lost when it comes to life – we get up and put one foot in front of the other, but often we don’t recognize the path we’re on. So it’s Son #2’s turn to navigate that path, and he’s trying to find his way.

So, I wake up and remember that. And with my acceptance of that pearl of wisdom, things are starting to get back to the “new normal” for this mom. And I’ve watched a few movies. I admit I haven’t taken my usual (overly) thorough notes, but when I sat down to write this, I had to wonder if that even mattered. Because sadly the movies I did watch aren’t necessarily ones I would recommend.

OK! Really only one movie fits the mold – though I did rewatch the 80’s classic Can’t Buy Me Love last night, and let me tell you, the African Anteater Ritual dance is still pretty damn funny. Anyway, a few days ago I sat down to watch Maniac (2012) starring none other than Frodo – I mean Elijah Wood. It is a remake of the 1980 movie of the same name, which I admit to not having watched yet. I heard about this movie awhile ago, and I admit I was intrigued. The idea of Frodo – Shit. I mean Elijah. – as a homicidal maniac wasn’t something I could envision. And I wasn’t too far off base. The movie was not my cup of tea.

Note: There are potential spoilers throughout this review, so you may want to stop here and return after watching the movie.

We start out with Frank (Wood) stalking a young woman as she makes her way home after a night out. The next thing we know, he has shoved a very large knife up through her throat, into her mouth, and I assume it pierced her brain because the poor girl was dead before she hit the ground.

It isn’t quite clear what Frank does with these women or what his problem is. And that’s the case for another 20 minutes, and they were 20 painstaking minutes. The movie is told from Frank’s POV, and I will say the movie really sticks to that. I didn’t even know we were hearing Frank and seeing what he was doing until about ten minutes in, when the narrator took a picture of himself! I found this way of doing things off-putting, even confusing at times.

Maniac.After meeting online, Frank and Lucie (Megan Duffy) go on a date at a restaurant. I sure thought it went well, but apparently Frank was having second thoughts. After giving her a ride home and coming in (at her invitation), Lucie gets very sexually aggressive. For some reason, Frank wants to leave. I’m not sure if he just wasn’t feeling it, or if perhaps he liked her and knew what would happen if he got worked up. But alas, poor Lucie wasn’t taking the hint. Mistaking Frank’s reluctance for lack of experience, she pretty much throws him on the bed, starts to fellate him and then dies – because he strangles her. What an asshole! Then… he scalps her. And let me say, we get to see all the gory details.

Moving on to fresher prey, he stalks and kills a pretty dancer, and then he falls in love/becomes obsessed with Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a photographer that likes Frank’s mannequins. Did I mention Frank has a very creepy business that restores mannequins, which he poses in strange positions? Oh, and he staples the scalps he rips off the heads of his victims to them as well. What a guy!

Frank learns that Anna has a boyfriend, and he gets pissed off. Rita, Anna’s mentor, decides to ridicule Frank for reasons I either missed or they left out. Frank doesn’t like that, and you guessed it… kills Rita.

This all comes to a head when Anna and Frank almost get intimate. See, Anna had a fight with her boyfriend, and Frank decides to go console her. He lets slip something about Rita’s murder, and Anna realizes that her meek friend just might be a serial killer. Realizing his mistake, Frank makes excuses, but Anna isn’t buying it and stabs him. Then she locks herself in the bathroom – which is a smart move because getting out of the apartment is just a dumb idea, right? (/sarcasm)

Anna’s heroic neighbor meets the business end of Frank’s meat cleaver when he tries to rescue Anna, and somehow our creepy hobbit is able to get Anna down to his car. But she isn’t having it and stabs him with a mannequin arm. I think it had some sort of spike in it, or rebar. Unfortunately, at this point I just wasn’t into it. Well, either way, Anna runs off.

In the end, Anna’s escape was futile. A stranger picks her up and attempts to help by running over Frodo. Unfortunately, the driver loses control of the car, and in the resulting crash, Anna is flung through the windshield.

Despite being a bloody mess, Evil Frodo (I’ve given up. He will always be Frodo to me.) musters up the strength to hobble over to the dying Anna and scalp her.

Maniac.Somehow, he makes it back to his apartment and staples Anna’s scalp to a mannequin dressed as a bride. There is a very trippy scene that follows. As Frodo lay dying, his mannequins transform into his victims and attack him. One even rips his face off to reveal… wait for it… a mannequin’s head.

The next morning, Frank is found by a SWAT team… dead in his closet.

I suppose this type of gory, artsy mess has its fans. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Sorry, Franck Khalfoun (director). The idea of the mild-mannered nerd as a killer isn’t new, and it’s been done before. In those cases, I’ve bought into it, but here, all I could think was: Why don’t these women just beat the shit out of the hobbit? Perhaps this was Wood’s way of breaking free of the mold that he’s been in – since The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came out over a decade ago (maybe this mold is only in my mind though). But I don’t think this was the vehicle to do that.

1 bloody scalp out of five.

Xina

Hello, fellow horror fans! I grew up watching horror, and my love for the genre is still going strong! Slasher films are sort of my secret-well, probably not so secret-obsession, but I'm up for anything-zombies, creature features, B movies, D movies-you name it, I'll give it a shot. Sometimes to the annoyance of my husband. I'm on twitter @Xina143, send me a tweet and tell me what I should watch next!"

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