|Release date:||Friday March 15 2013|
Cast and crew
Let's get one thing straight. There have been far too many cliche ridden remakes of classic 70s and 80s horrors down the years for people, surely, to be that bothered at the box office with a remake of one that wasn't that good in the first place. William Lustig's fairly unoriginal slasher film was not the first to feature the trope of child abuse as a trigger for psychopathic adult tendencies, which is the only claim to originality the director has always ceded. But it is also poorly paced, with substandard characterisation and acting, and has only gained fame in the UK through its notoriety on the Video Nasties list, and it is still cut over here as a concession to its reputation, although it's not actually that graphic. But surely this is the point, where a remake can hopefully add something to the original which wasn't actually there. Whereas the coming Evil Dead remake appears to be making the error of playing things absolutely straight, and thus becoming just another of the many knock-offs Raimi's film has produced, the new version of Maniac plays things totally straight, and does so for a reason. It is excellent. The first innovation that it makes is taking you straight inside the killer's migraine-addled head via a first person viewpoint except where his face is reflected or shown via hallucination, with glossy camerawork that escapes the MTV shakyvision so prevalent now in action and horror films. The character is well-acted, and all the acting in this is actually suberb. Characterisation is important; the killer offs both sympathetic and unlikable characters, but you're not able to fully enjoy it regardless due to the nauseating gore, which goes far further than the original but benefits likewise from the absence of distancing CGI. Another point it scores above not only most remakes but most new horror films, aside from its creepy flirtations with surrealism in Frank's visions and the set design, is in the choice of soundtrack. The director is a musician, and supplies a lushly nostalgic keyboard score, with classical interjections of Bach, Schubert and Gounod. This is a far cry from the unlistenable corporate rock, thrash punk, electrogoth or death metal band soundtracks which horror fans with musical taste have had to suffer for the last twenty years. And also there's no resort to the egregious cliche, used in the original, of the seemingly dead killer coming back to life in time for the final credis. All aspiring horror directors who think that the conventional slasher movie didn't chew off its own tail by the 90s should watch this and see how an intelligent, scary and brutal slasher pic should be made.