The Cinefamily in Los Angeles held a special screening of the Maniac remake last night at the Silent Movie Theater, attracting a large crowd and some of the film’s cast and crew including director Franck Khalfoun and star Elijah Wood.
Directed by Khalfoun (P2) and written by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur, the film is a redo of William Lustig’s sweaty, sleazy 1980s film and we’re happy to report the updated version retains a certain lurid nature, is very violent and is made fresh by an aesthetic choice that proved to be challenging on both a narrative and technical level for the filmmakers and cast: Much of the film is done from the killer’s POV.
Wood plays Frank, a man – haunted by seedy memories of his promiscuous mother – who works in a mannequin shop by day and stalks ‘n kills women by night. Things take a turn in his life when he meets a beautiful photographer (Nora Arnezeder). Filled with stabbing, scalping, heavy breathing, a wild-eyed Elijah Wood and a killer ’80s-esque score, Maniac should sate the appetite of those looking for a hard slasher film.
ShockTillYouDrop.com stuck around for the post-screening for the Q&A; here are some highlights.
Wood said director of photography Maxime Alexandre (Aja’s go-to guy who shot High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes) often served as Wood’s hand double. “It was a real marriage between Maxime’s camera work and Elijah,” says Khalfoun. “You see Frank throughout the movie sporadically and Elijah was there to make sure the camera moved the right way and the lines were delivered correctly. It was important he be there. It was the first time I had seen an actor work so closely and technically with the camera to guide it through where he would be or actually do.”
The film proved to be a challenge blocking out the scenes. Wood called it a “puzzle” as they had to map out how each scene was covered within the context of the POV nature.
When Wood was approached by producer Alix Taylor, the project was pitched as something in which he’d only be seen in reflections and it would be two weeks of work. He was intrigued by the POV aspect. “It was extremely experimental and it seemed like a very interesting take on the original, because I’m not particularly a huge fan of remakes,” said Wood. The actor discovered he’d need to be there every day, however, as often they would find last-minute opportunities to reveal his character’s reflection while shooting.
“In regards to playing the character, I think it was in three or four parts,” Wood said. “Being on set felt far more technical than emotional. I was thinking about how I was going to fit into the construct of a shot. It had more to do with physicality than my emotional state of being except for the reflections that were relatively intense moments. I always felt like the heart of the character and the depths of the darkness of the character were going to happen in the ADR stage [of the film].”
Some of Wood’s dialogue was recorded while shooting (he was there to play off his co-stars), but much of the vocal work was done later in post-production.
When asked about how he pulled of the film’s POV and reflections (moreover, hiding the camera), Khalfoun told the crowd he’d prefer not to reveal too many secrets, however, it was all about angles and mirrors.
The man behind the score is known as simply “Rob.” He hails from France and doesn’t often do scores, but Khalfoun loved his retro vibe and range.
Sometimes, the film would break the POV and traditionally shoot Wood’s character. Khalfoun said, “The main concern I had in making this movie is filmmaking is about feeling for your character and here I am not showing my character. In creating fear, I was stripped of all of the tools I had to create tension and doing scary stuff. Being on the side of the victims, I couldn’t do that.” To tackle this challenge, Khalfoun used reflections, dreams and flashbacks to be able to show Frank. “We’d be able to create this character this way. In doing research on serial killers, many of them said they had these crazy out of body experiences, they felt that they were watching themselves perform these horrible acts from the outside.”
Stay tuned for our full interview with Khalfoun about Maniac next week!
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