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‘Maniac’

by Kaori Shoji

Elijah Wood, best known for his work in the “Lord of the Rings” series and for having been around since babyhood, is perhaps looking to branch out as an actor. That would explain “Maniac,” a remake of the 1980 slasher movie recognized among horror fans as the precursor to “The Silence of the Lambs.” Wood has the title role and boy, is he scary.

In Los Angeles, the brooding, friendless Frank (Wood) runs a mannequin shop by day and goes out to stalk, torture and murder women by night. Frank is torn between his love for living, breathing female flesh and his flawless but lifeless mannequins. To bridge the gap, he scalps his victims and hordes the prizes. Apparently, this works for him.

Then pretty French artist Anna (Nora Arnezeder) walks into his shop to discuss an exhibition she might stage with mannequins. Frank is thrilled: Here at last is a woman who seems to get it. But if she had any inkling of his true nature he would have to kill her too, and the urge to do so assails him more often than he’d like to admit.

This is grindhouse meets relentless CGI gore, all the more enhanced by Wood’s dewy baby-face. It’s a shocker for fans of Wood, but for slasher enthusiasts there’s plenty to mull and rake over. For starters, it nods to”The Silence of the Lambs” by borrowing “Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazzarus from its soundtrack. Enjoy.