Maniac Review by Jade Lindley

By Jade Lindley  

Oh how I loathe remakes, they never get it right. It’s just total rehashes of the original films just without the charm, the individuality, TOTAL GARBAGE…oh wait what’s this there’s a remake which is just as good as the original…wait it’s a horror film? Yep that’s right you heard correctly, FINALLY there is a decent remake in the horror genre, and it goes by the name of ‘Maniac’.  I had been losing my shit over this film since I heard  about this going into production. Unfortunately this didn’t hit the cinemas here in Perth, surprise surprise. But last week I was lucky enough to buy a Blu-ray copy and I went home that night, poured a big glass of whiskey and got ready for the violence that I was going to indulge myself in.

It’s not every day that a killer has a strange fetish and love for women’s scalps, but Frank Zito does. On his journey of recreating beautiful women with bloody scalps he meets the beautiful photographer Anna who has a fascination for mannequins and want’s to use them for an art exhibit. As she is preparing for this exhibit, their friendship blossoms and Frank is struggling with his own demons and wondering if this woman could be his ideal match, the woman that stops him fulfilling his sick desires. I don’t want to give too much away with the plot, because it’s an amazing piece of modern-day horror mixed with exploitation elements which you need to see unfold for yourself. I do love the original version of ‘Maniac’ but I cannot help but feel this remake is just as enjoyable if not more so than the first one. The pacing with the remake doesn’t feel as slow, it feels a lot more intense and with the musical score in the background it only adds to severity of the brutality that we witness on the screen.


Now I just have to say I have never been a huge fan of Elijah Wood and I am probably one of the only people out there that can’t stand the ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, however this film proves Wood is capable of so many talents. His role of Frank Zito could have totally fallen flat on his face if he played this in more an aggressive manner in terms of his personality. Instead he played Frank as if that he had  a childlike mentality who truly believed what he was doing was right. And even though what he was doing to these women was just straight up horrifying, I couldn’t help but feel really sorry for him. He had severe mummy issues and seeing what she was doing while he was a child, definitely changed his course on life and how he should act towards women. And it’s a real shame that this sort of thing isn’t just seen in the movies. I really enjoyed the character of Anna played by Nora Arnezeder because while at times she seemed very vulnerable to Frank’s insecure charms, she was still badass and she is by no means a weak character, it was good to see a strong 
female lead.

You cannot talk about this film without mentioning the amazing POV shots in the film. The reason why I love that it was filmed this way, is because it makes you feel like you are Frank. It makes you feel like you are doing the killing, and it’s a very effective way to get into your own psyche and actually ask yourself if you sympathise with the victim or with him. Also when a film like ‘Maniac’ is shot in POV it’s actually quite chilling because you somewhat feel that you are in control of this situation but at the same time there is nothing you can do about it because it’s a film.  It’s an extremely personal way of shooting a film and if given the right setting, and story then it’s something that can be pulled off with a lot of artistic merit, instead of looking like an amateur porno film. I also loved the musical score, it just had a very 1980’s feel to it which at times was reminiscent to the film ‘Drive’. At times I was actually wondering if Ryan Gosling was going to appear out of the shadows, but alas nothing.  The death count wasn’t extremely high, but I am glad it wasn’t because instead of killing a tonne of stupid hookers this really focused on Frank and why he chose the women he did. Between each killing there was time for you to gather yourself and see Frank’s madness unfold, and parts of his life is slowly revealed and as the film goes on you are trying to piece together this jigsaw puzzle. 

‘Maniac’ is an incredible piece of film, a remake which is loyal but has it’s own take on it but pays homage to the original. Everything is very clear, concise to the point, and it doesn’t try to confuse with too much convoluted and pointless sub plots. This film is honest, and simple and that simplicity really goes a hell of a long way. Sure a lot of people have branded this film ‘depraved’ and ‘sick’ and I have heard that people have walked out of the cinema when watching this film, which I think is just funny. Sure the killings are graphic and are blatant, but it isn’t a gore-fest. It isn’t about how much fake blood could have been used during the production, it’s just that Frank like’s to scalp women and it’s not something we see in every single horror film, so of course people will be shocked. If you haven’t seen this based upon the fact that it is a remake, just please throw that thought out of your head because it is one of the best remakes that has been produced in the last 10 years. And I definitely think that this film could be in a few people’s top 10 films of 2013…I know it’s definitely going to be in mine. If you are a horror buff and have not seen this you should definitely check it out and see all the different elements taken from sub genres such as ‘splatter’, ‘Giallo’ and ‘Exploitation’. ‘Maniac’ has so many creative influences but it is so damn unique, so I order you to grab yourself a whiskey, settle in for the night and watch ‘Maniac’…just do it now. 



The Fault in Our Stars review by Barry Cox


Knowing full well the Fault in our Stars was going to tug on the heart strings, and possibly have me sniffling, head in arms, I thought I’d be a brave soul and venture with my Kleenex in hand, to the local cinema for a emotional thrashing regardless.

Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel Grace Lancaster, whom was diagnosed with type-4 thyroid cancer at a young age and is battling on like a trooper. Supported by her parents (Dern and Trammell), Hazel, who finds comfort in her solace, choosing to read a particular book over and over, that just happens to be about cancer, rather than anything much else.

Good old mum and doctor decide it would be good if she went to a support group where she can meet others of similar circumstances. Alas, she goes along complete with oxygen tank on wheels in tow. There she meets and begins a fluid, if slightly jovial friendship with Gus, a cancer patient who is in remission. Gus is full of dexterousness and benevolence, a trait that, whilst often worthy of eye rolling moments, really serves the character well.

As obvious as it is to say it, Hazel and Gus fall in love *insert ahs and coos here* and embark on a journey to Amsterdam (Holland, not New York) as Gus, the lovable fella that he is, has set up a meeting with Peter Van Houghton (Willem Dafoe), the author of Hazel’s favourite book. So, with the doctor’s disapproval, off they go to a city full of tulips and debauchery for fun and frolics.

I’ll leave the synopsis there. If that’s intrigued you, I suggest you stop reading now and go and see the film, as my thoughts below is about to upset the apple cart.

My one (big) problem with the film lies within its force-fed approach to the story. Yes, it was always going to be a difficult narrative to tackle, though the idea has merit, it’s in the execution the problems are evident.  The film’s soundtrack is as saccharine as they come. Chock-full of those exaggeratingly sentimental moments, helping those lodged tears embark on a journey down your face. Then there’s the way that Hazel speaks. As a teenager, I knew a few choice words, but not things like “…there’s nothing that can’t be fixed by a Peter Gabriel song”, and whilst I have quoted that out of context, the important thing is that this teenage girl is saying things like this and knows who Peter Gabriel is. Maybe she does, who am I to question what goes on in a teenagers world, it’s not like I was ever one once.

Ultimately by the films tear-jerking finale, (it’s not a spoiler, honest) the cinema was flooded with teenage tears, and tissues were strewn across the isles, and I was utterly done in by the hammer to the head, emotiveness of ‘The Fault in our Stars’. It really does wear its welcome out. A few good scenes aside and charming chemistry from the leads cannot save it from being anything more than an overly sentimental piece that doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression.