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Elijah Wood is an interesting, seemingly perpetual youthful looking actor. While he started his career in family friendly fare such as Back To The Future II, Flipper and The Adventures of Huck Finn; before moving onto films like Deep Impact and The Faculty. Of course his career really took off when Peter Jackson cast him in The Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) trilogy as the central character Frodo Baggins. It’s curious how after LOTR people still considered him to be a cutesy actor. His appearance in Sin City seemed to confuse a lot of people (at the time, I too was confused). Elijah Wood? As a cannibalistic serial killer called Kevin?! Elijah Wood Vs Mickey Rourke in a fight?! What is this madness! Needless to say, he pulled it off rather well in the end, making a huge impact despite his limited screen time.

These roles combined with his casting in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and the Wilfred tv show remake re all pretty dark tales with Wood’s characters have large obsessive tendencies. Thinking back to LOTR it’s actually pretty clear that this isn’t as much of a far cry from his previous work when you consider what Frodo Baggins went through with the titular ring. Obsession is dangerous and Wood seems to have a better understanding of this than most.

This now brings us to a trailer that I stumbled upon just yesterday for Maniac; a remake of a cult classic horror film originally directed by William Lustig and written by/starring Joe Spinell. Maniac was very much a product of its time and has a defined place within the grindhouse movement. It’s a hauntingly realistic low budget portrayal of a serial killer afflicted by loss. A large, awkward, bumbling man stricken by grief and mutated by his abusive past. Maniac told the story of a killer who misses his mother after she died in a car crash, despite the fact that she abused him heavily he stalks women and removes their scalps, putting them on mannequins that are posed around his apartment. Then he meets a photographer who he becomes obsessed with and stalks her, in the hopes of forming a relationship. It’s a low budget film with infamous and very graphic violence put together by effects wizard Tom Savini. A nasty little film that has built its cult following and while some of its violence may seem tame by today’s standards there was a time where it was incredibly shocking.

Needless to say, Alexandre Aja and his writing partner Gregory Levasseur (responsible for guiding the Piranha and The Hills Have Eyes remakes to the screen) decided that it was a film that deserved to be remade. Frank Khalfoun directs; whom also has working experience with the other guys (he edited The Hills Have Eyes). Khalfoun also wrote and directed the horror set in a parking garage P2. While P2 was certainly lacking in areas it was a valiant attempt to try and do something new, even if it only partially succeeded. P2 is the best horror film set entirely within an underground parking garage you’re likely to see from that year. That’s about as underhanded as compliments get, but it’s not wrong!

You can watch the trailer for Maniac below. Be warned, it’s NSFW due to extreme scalping and blood-letting.

Elijah Wood is delightfully creepy and completely twisted. His performance seems incredibly engaging and possibly even empathetic. The music used in the trailer really lends to the atmosphere of the footage.

The biggest point of interest here is the decision to shoot most of the film from the perspective of Wood’s serial killer. This perspective can be very engaging and help to heighten the scare factor, if only because you are being forced to share in his voyeuristic tendencies and become more intimate with his victims and the horrific acts that he will be perpetrating. While it could have the strong potential to unsettle viewers due to this shooting methodology it could also have the adverse affect and perhaps even irritate or disorientate the viewer. It remains to be seen just how much of the film is in this format, as it has clearly taken inspiration from the original film, though that movie only had one scene in POV, not the whole film. This “Prisoner of View” concept has made the idea of a remake of an obscure grindhouse classic that much more appealing though. Also, considering that it’s a mostly independent French production that’s struggling to find Hollywood distribution that says a few things i.e. that it’s particularly gruesome and that it could well be a quality little film. Most worthy remakes choose to take aspects of the original that are often only briefly touched upon or utilized and then expand them in an intriguing way. From what we see of Maniac here, it looks like it could well just do that! The triumvirate that have created this movie have a lot of experience working together and The Hills Have Eyes remake arguably turned out to be better than the original, so we could be onto a winner here.

Maniac is produced by Aja / Levasseur Productions and aside from appearances in film festivals around the globe is yet to have a firm release date for North America or most of Europe. Due to it being a mostly French production it has a theatrical French release date of 26th December 2012.

Are you a fan of the original? Does this trailer excite you? What do you think of Elijah Wood? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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