Last year I was told about how different and interesting the remake of William Lusting’s 1980 Maniac was. But being my usual stubborn self I thought of it as yet ‘another’ remake (minus the original sleaze), casually dismissed it as hyperbole.
Not being a fan of remakes (minus John Carpenter’s The Thing and Chuck Russell’s The Blob) I still had some trepidation as I slid the disc into my player. Within the opening minutes, for the first time in a very long time, I was slack-jawed and slightly dazed.
Then I listened to the 80s inspired soundtrack. I was taken aback by how haunting it was for a modern slasher soundtrack – suddenly I felt odd, that maybe the tweeters and social net-workers were on to something.
Its clearly infused with a euro genre-film sensibility, combining the elements of French techno. I even felt the underlying themes of some of Fabio Frizzi’s synthetic madness – It reminds me very much of Giorgio Morodor’s Cat People, making it a menacing delight on the ears.
This was a classic case of not paying attention to what has been told to me. Having grown jaded by recent horror releases – nothing has felt fresh or original to me for a very long time. Even horrors which try to change formulaic scenarios feel as though they are lacking something.
With this remake, director Franck Khalfoun has taken a ballsy approach and shot nearly the entire film from a first-person perspective. Just when it feels like this could be a gimmick which has run its course, Khalfoun quickly pulls out of Frank’s head-space to indulge in the surrounding environment.
Those key moments where the camera films Frank in conventional style are probably some of the most gut-wrenching scenes within the film. The first instance where it pulls back to reveal the climax of Frank’s murderous carnage, is effectively the moment he seems to orgasm.
It’s a truly uncomfortable scene and certainly one of the more impressive moments I’ve viewed in a modern horror film. One particular sequence (involving a car) felt more visceral and gut wrenching than what had come before it.
I will say this; as much as I’m not a fan of remakes, I’m also not a fan of the original Maniac – I find it repellent and a tad boring. In all honesty it just rubs me up the wrong way, which is odd as I own (and have seen) plenty of low-budget sleaze over the years.
This remake -while being far from genre defining- is still one of the best modern horrors I have seen for quite sometime. Yes it’s shallow once you scratch under the surface, but it still feels like a lovingly crafted homage to the VHS rentals of the 1980s. All of this combines to allow the garish neon hues and synthesised beats to perfectly complement each other in a twisted symphony.
I never thought i’d say this but, the remake to Maniac is a recommended watch and one which I might well revisit soon (along with its impressive soundtrack). Scalps off to Wood as it seems he has (along with Aja and Khalfoun) finally shaken the film shackles of Frodo Baggins.
Has anyone else viewed this remake? How did you find it and what do you think these recent modern horror film re-imaginings? Pop a comment below.