Maniac (2012)
September 10, 2014 6:18 PM - Subscribe

When the owner of a mannequin shop helps a young artist with her upcoming exhibition, suppressed desires come to the surface.

This is pick #13 in the MeFi Horror Club.
posted by DirtyOldTown (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I want to like this movie, because it's gorgeous and has a great soundtrack and really most of the people who worked on it did a fine job, but I am just not down with a movie that shows me graphic close-ups of a man choking and punching a woman. Understand that I can deal with fantastical slasher movie violence -- to me, that's about as realistic as Star Wars -- and I can deal with the kind of brutality that we saw in Martyrs, which at times is highly realistic without ever seeming voyeuristic, and was frankly in the service of a much more serious film. But I mean with this thing I get to a POV scene of a woman being savagely beaten and that is not entertainment. And a movie like this is not high art, and if it's not entertainment, what the hell is it? Anyway, I watched this once about a year ago and really didn't care for it, tried to watch it again this time, got about twenty minutes in, turned it off. Very similar to my reaction to Only God Forgives. What's next?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:40 PM on September 10, 2014

Just watched this, and I has opinions.

It both looks really gorgeous (it's shot on the Red Epic, a camera I think gets too little love for what it can do, especially for low-light and night scenes, which there's a lot of in this movie). The soundtrack is also good, although it gets a bit repetitive for my taste.

Apart from that, eh. It doesn't have that much substance to it, to be honest. The violence is certainly hard to watch, although as it gets increasingly ridiculous, it becomes easier. I thought the second murder, at the end of his date, was pretty excruciating, even though it's the least gory or gruesome of all. It's just really cruel and nasty.

The whole thing feels really retro, and not necessarily in a good way. The whole "dangerous stranger with a knife killing random women" thing feels like a distinctly 70s-80s anxiety, a world where a murderous maniac can somehow sneak into the dressing room of a dancing school and hide in the close to watch topless women without being noticed, or just go into an apartment building with a doorman, steal keys, go in and murder someone, and slip back out without being noticed, and where the same guy can just run around with a huge hunting knife killing women really messily after being seen in public with them over and over again without getting caught (I will grant that the movie takes place in a fairly short time span, but still).

There's also something retro, almost puritanic about the whole Freudian motivation. Yeah, it's probably not great for kids to see their mothers have group sex and do drugs, but I'm unconvinced that it leads directly to wholesale butchery and calling random victims "mommy". It's all very pat and old-fashioned (Psycho is of course the granddaddy of those plots).

Speaking of pat, the dialogue is ridiculously on the nose and stilted. At first I thought it was Antisocial Frodo just being really weary and damaged from carrying the ring for so long, but everyone in the movie speaks in the same way. French girl could probably be excused, but her boyfriend, her agent, her neighbor, everyone's got the same odd rhythm and expository, on the nose thing going on. Even Wood, who's normally at least a quite passable actor, is so stilted, especially in the risible talking to himself delusional ranting, that I'd be tempted to say his acting is just plain bad. I suspect it's either the director who can't really direct actors, or the fact that the screenwriters are non-native English speakers. It varies a bit, but at times it was really cringe-worthy.

Final random observations:

- I don't buy that Frank, even though he's super-emaciated Gollumified Elijah Wood, would actually go on dates with girls that interesting and good looking. He also seems to be at times quite well-spoken and normal, and at other times near-autistic, depending on what serves the plot.

- The slip-up he makes at the end is really dumb (but so is the whole ending).

- It seems it's true no one takes the LA subway, although for the same reason, I don't believe that dancing girl would take it either, especially not alone at night.

- The middle cop in the final shot is holding his rifle in such a way that it doesn't line up with his shoulder at all, the stock is way above his shoulder, and his wrist is really bent. If he fired it like that, he'd both fuck up his wrist and send the rifle flying back over his shoulder.

- I haven't seen Only God Forgives, but this reminded me of Drive. Same stylish neon LA stuff, same repetitive electronic soundtrack, same style but no substance, ultimately boring story that goes nowhere. Drive is still better than this, but I realize I'm in a minority when it comes to my opinion of that movie (which is basically, "meh, fine, I guess").
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:42 AM on September 11, 2014

I thought the second murder, at the end of his date

Is it bad that I sorta chortled when she turned on the record player and it was the same song Buffalo Bill was listening to in Silence of the Lambs when he does his little show for the camera?
posted by Hoopo at 11:03 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

%n: "Is it bad that I sorta chortled when she turned on the record player and it was the same song Buffalo Bill was listening to in Silence of the Lambs when he does his little show for the camera?"

Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus, yeah. It's a good song, but I assumed it was a conscious reference.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:19 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh for sure it was intentional, I just thought it was kinda funny
posted by Hoopo at 12:14 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Twin Peaks: Demons...   |  The Great British Bake Off: Eu... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments