William Lustig's Maniac from 1980 is a movie I've only seen a couple of times, and until recently it had been years and years since I'd seen it. Turns out, older me ended up enjoying it way more than younger me ever did. Still, I'd be lying if I said I was in a big hurry to see the remake. I wasn't familiar with director Franck Khalfoun, and I'm wasn't a huge Elijah Wood fan. In fact about the only thing that had me mildly interested was Alex Aja's involvement. Through word of mouth though, I kept hearing how amazing it was. In fact to this day, I've not heard anything negative about it. So I gave it a watch, and walked away ashamed that I didn't jump on the bandwagon immediately, and attempt to see this in a theater somewhere before now.
Frank had it rough coming up, we get flashbacks of memories he has of his mother, who has to be the worst parent seen in film in decades. So it's no wonder he turned out to be a little "disturbed". Frank works as a restorer of mannequins, who just also happens to scalp beautiful women in his spare time. He runs into a photographer named Anna, and she asks for his help in setting up a gallery showcasing her work. He reluctantly agrees, and the two of them become friends. As they get closer, Frank begins to fall for her, at the same time struggling with his desire to remove her scalp from her skull.
I honestly can't think of a single thing this movie does wrong. I had absolutely no complaints when the credits rolled. It's probably one of the best all-around movies I've seen this year. The cast is amazing, especially Elijah Wood. It's gory, at times brutally violent, and somehow even ends up being effectively dramatic at times. I didn't feel particularly connected one way or another to Joe Spinell's "Frank" from the 1980 version, but damn if I didn't feel for Elijah Wood's "Frank" in this one. The flashbacks of his mother were heartbreaking, and while I can't say I agree with what he did, I can understand. Dude has every right to be completely fucked up. Watching him struggle with his feelings toward Anna, I couldn't help but sympathize with the poor bastard.
I can't speak for the die hard fans of the 80's version, but for the rest of us, there is absolutely no reason to skip 2012's Maniac. Elijah Wood turns in the performance of his career, and it's simply one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Two thumbs way up from the Batcave.