Monday, 27 May 2013

REVIEW - MANIAC


Film may be an art form, but not all films are inherently artistic. Any hack director can pimp up a sleazy piece of shit with gimmicks and artsy-fartsy affectations, but you already know you can't polish a turd so why are you bothering? I suppose some people will inevitably drink it right up, and find all manner of preposterous reasons for why Maniac is provocative and challenging and innovative and all sorts of baloney, but I can smell the pretension from here, and the callous pleasure the tawdry types who made this film derive in wallowing in their own filth. My problem with violence this sadistic is not prudish; I don't like it because it seeks to induce feelings of horror and disgust, which are neither satisfying nor stimulating, and because it relies on the infliction of pain via murder and mutilation to provide it with a purpose. Fear and pain are emotions which, when witnessed, can be stimulating, and can be enlightening, but I don't see what's enlightening about watching a hog-tied woman getting scalped. There's no subtext, no black comedy angle, no apparent need for any of this other than to revile - I like being unsettled by a good film, or provoked by a good film, but I hate being revolted by a bad film. And Maniac's comical pretentiousness, its certainty that its gimmicks and affectations are so creative and so unique only make it harder to endure. The script is like a poor parody of an already poor horror film, and Elijah Wood's delivery is intended as distant but just sounds like some drama student who really, really wants to be an actor but is really, really bad at acting. Most of the film is shot from his visual perspective, which means that the camera is thrust in every available reflective surface so that we can get a good look at the only recognisable face in the cast as much as possible, and the camera placement seldom works in these moments, which doesn't help lure us into his headspace as is the point of this gambit. The producer, Thomas Langmann, is an Oscar-winner, and a recent one at that, and I'm not sure if this looks worse for him now or worse for the Academy.