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I just got home from a press screening of MANIAC (starring Elijah Wood) and I am going to tell you ALL ABOUT IT. (Disclaimer: I don’t deal well with blood and/or fear, so my analysis of this movie could differ from people who do deal well with those things.)

Let me give you the basic gist of the film, which is: Elijah Wood’s character Frank is a quiet, timid serial killer who sometimes wears turtlenecks, and who also has some serious mommy issues. He is a successful mannequin restorer (read: LOL) who enjoys: hair, scalping women because of their hair, and occasionally punching his reflection in the mirror. He dislikes: flies, being told he’s gay, not killing people, etc. Here is the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHPXeWpION8

Here is how I felt while watching MANIAC:

  • I wanted to throw up and/or cry and/or laugh and/or yell “KILL ELIJAH!” for most of the screening.
  • Also, this must have been the only movie theater in existence that was uncomfortably warm. (I was sweaty and filled with emotions and nausea.)

Here are some annoying things about MANIAC:

  • Elijah’s character is the creepiest, and yet people still willingly interact with him. Like, he is so creepy that at one point a girl gets off the train to avoid him, yet he somehow manages to befriend an attractive, seemingly-normal French girl. (WHAT?!)
  • A lot of the camera angles are shot from Elijah’s character’s perspective, and so you’re stuck kind of “being” him the whole time. There’s probably some psychological explanation for why they did that (like to make you understand how horrible it is to be trapped in a killer’s body or something) but mostly I just hated it.
  • No one understands how to survive. I’m not saying I’m Bear Grylls or anything, but I at least understand fundamentals like: probably don’t run into an abandoned parking lot, and/or, probably don’t not use your cell phone, and/or probably don’t get off the train if someone is creeping you out, because they will most likely follow. Also, if you’re given a VERY EASY ESCAPE, probably take it immediately, yeah? (And yes, I know it’s a horror movie, and people are generally not very good at staying alive, but those people are usually out in the woods with no cell service, not modern-day LA. #LOGIC)
  • Robin Coudert (Phoenix) did the soundtrack, and even though it’s good, I refuse to relive this movie by listening to it ever again.

Here are some things you (or at least I) will no longer be able to do after watching MANIAC:

  • Eat. Dear Jillian Michaels: If you’re running out of ideas for how to get people to lose weight, I have a new one for you! Simply herd all the fatties into a movie theater, screen MANIAC, and watch everyone’s appetites and (eventually) body fat melt away. There’s just something about watching Elijah Wood graphically scalp people (and then messily reassemble said scalps onto mannequin skulls) for ninety minutes that destroys any semblance of a desire to consume food. On the way out of the theater, one girl said, “I almost had to leave my seat to go puke,” and I agreed; even on the train ride home, there were a handful of “am-I-going-to-projectile-vomit” moments. (Yes, it was that bad. And no, it doesn’t help that the squelching sound of scalping is forever burned into my brain.)
  • Shop for clothes. By default, clothing stores tend to have a lot of mannequins hanging around, and if you watch MANIAC, these will become harbingers of (gruesome) death; if you’re not picturing a swarm of flies buzzing around a blood-encrusted mannequin head, you’re definitely going to be wondering if Elijah Wood is lurking somewhere nearby in the store, and your shopping habits will drastically decline as a result.
  • Bathe. Why, for the love of god, can not ONE SINGLE SCARY MOVIE leave the goddamn bathtub out of the equation?! There are plenty of other interesting places to kill people around the home that don’t potentially compromise personal hygiene, but NO, you HAVE to consistently go and ruin cleanliness for all of us, because now there’s the looming possibility that we will be drowned or stabbed or asphyxiated with a shower curtain.
  • Date. Well, now that you can’t bathe, dating should theoretically be off the table anyway. BUT, seriously, you will never want to go on another date ever again, because how do you know it won’t result in scalping? (Answer: YOU DON’T.)
  • TRUST ANYONE. Seriously, no one.

Here is who you will be worried about after watching MANIAC that you didn’t worry about before:

  • Literally everyone. You will be thinking, “HIDE YOUR HAIR, YOU GUYS! ELIJAH COULD BE AROUND HERE! PUT YOUR HAIR AWAY!” (PS are you guys getting mad that I keep referring to Elijah Wood’s character Frank as Elijah Wood?)

Here are some things that, if you do watch MANIAC, may help to console you:

  • Picture Elijah Wood’s (sorry, FRANK’S) frustration at realizing the person he’s chosen to scalp is wearing a wig, like Amanda Bynes before she tried to do that cartwheel at a gymnastics class over the weekend. (Seriously, it helps.)
  • Listen to “Maniac” by Michael Sembello to help you forget all the negative feelings you have towards the word “maniac” now.
  • (That’s as far as I’ve gotten.)

Here are the kinds of people who can probably see this movie and be okay:

  • Andrew Zimmern, because 1) he has no hair with which to entice a potential scalper, and 2) he has a high tolerance for extremely gross situations.
  • (That’s literally all.)

Bottom line: watch at your own risk; the film opens theatrically at the IFC Center and on VOD June 21st. (In the meantime, HIDE YOUR HAIR.)

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