Maniac (2012) is often respected amongst the horror community as a modern staple of the genre because of its unique style of being filmed almost entirely from the direct visual point of view of the serial killer (and not in through the found footage method, but a more traditional style, using a stable and fluid camera motion). While I find the film to be a personal, imaginative, and haunting perspective on the mind of a serial killer (he was a bit frail for my taste), it is the fact this film is a remake that makes it truly impressive. If also viewed through the eyeglass of this characteristic, it can be even more appreciated for its successes.
As we are all aware, remakes tend to struggle to find the balance between homage to the original and fresh content. If you reimagine too much, the product is viewed as an ill-conceived production that has a relation by title only. If you simply reshoot too many original scenes, you have defeated the purpose of recreating the film and receive the reputation as money-grubbing thieves. While most production companies don't really care how they are perceived, the "dangers" of remaking films isn't really all that dangerous to them. But that's not what Maniac is. It is a remake of the concept and serial killer outline from the 1980 film, but with an angle (that just so happens to be behind the eye of the killer himself) that makes it a standalone film of its own.
It was actually a brilliant design. Take the concept from the original film, but add the flavor, intensity, and viscocity of the first-person perspective to pay homage and provide something fresh simultaneously. While the similarities can't be denied, Maniac (2012) was so unique in its approach that it could be easily considered its own piece, almost defeating the purpose of naming it a remake to begin with.
The film itself had a very effective and unique production given the strangeness of its concept. It was necessary for Elijah Wood to be available on set for the entire production. In most instances, this is unusual for actors to be constantly on set for the entirety. But because the film is entirely from his perspective, there is no need for B-roll and a necessity for his constant perspective. The dialogue and first-person perspective almost humanizes the killer, while also giving you an uneasy and uncomfortable feeling throughout.
The one danger, and thereby the one issue, with the film is the pacing. While it holds up well given its one-angle handicap, there are points that feel slow and drag a bit, despite the short runtime. Dare I say Efrit was bored at moments (fine...I was too) when our killer can't decide if he wants to kill or kiss our female lead. But this was hardly a consistent issue and wasn't distracting over the course of the film as a whole. Currently on Netflix, I recommend giving it a shot, if for no other reason than to appreciate the style of the cinematography and script. Do be aware if you watch it with a date, the hefty sexuality and unwavering perspective can have an unsettling effect on the viewer.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 7/10