Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2012, Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac instantly became the type of remake that harnessed the ultimate idea of what a remake should be; daring, fresh, thoughtful, introspective and alive. What Khalfoun manages is to invite us deep within the confines of a man we only observed in William Lustig’s 1980 slasher sleaze, one who battles deep seeded mommy issues with an overly large and compensating bowie knife.
Expanding on the concept of the male gaze, we witness every moment from a POV, unleashing an inescapable directness that puts a unique take on an old classic. Frank Zito, played with a tenderly gaunt yet hauntingly concaved appearance by Elijah Wood, scalps lone women in measures that at time puts the original to shame, though Khalfoun’s polish alleviates an air of grime only 80’s New York City can evoke. This is Los Angeles after all, where the streets are lined with equal measures glitter to gore, a refreshing home for such bloodthirsty rage.
Scribed by horror remake king Alexandre Aja, we are given a front row seat to our stalkers mindset, creating a delicacy to his torment as well as a weight to his actions. By the end of Maniac, we can’t help but feel responsible for the degree of Frank’s ruthlessness, which is precisely what the male gaze needs.