After his star-making turn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Elijah Wood defied expectations by taking on more challenging and sometimes quite unnerving roles in films such as Everything is Illuminated and Sin City. In perhaps his darkest and most unsettling turn yet, Woods will soon be hunting and scalping beautiful young women in Maniac.

We’ve already gotten a look at Maniac‘s creepy, evocative opening sequence. Now, a trailer for the movie’s UK release shows off a bit more of the psychotic Frank’s overall goals and methodology.

Already out in French and German theaters, Maniac is a remake of the 1980 cult-classic directed by William Lustig (later of the Maniac Cop series). Directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2) and written partially by Alexandre Aja (Piranha), Maniac is one of the curious few French-produced films that is intended to be in English.

The film stars Wood as Frank, an artistically gifted young man whose relationship with his abusive mother has driven him to serially murder young women and take their scalps. America Oliva (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and Nora Arnezder (Safe House) co-star as Frank’s mother and potential target/love interest Anna, respectively.

This new trailer thoroughly confirms that Maniac will be in the same stylish, gore-spattered vein as previous Aja films (even though the movie is not being directed by him). With its throwback synthesizer score, sustained point-of-view shots, and shadowy lighting, the preview certainly evokes a sense of gut-churning dread.

Though this isn’t the first time Wood has played a serial killer, the trailer makes it clear that this isn’t simply a rehash of his wordless, goggle-eyed performance as Kevin in Sin City. With a voice that mixes breathy, genuinely unsettling obsession with a childlike honesty, Wood’s interpretation of Frank looks to be a new creature entirely.

All of this adds up to what looks like solid revival of a genre that’s gone rather stale in the last decade. Initial English-language reviews for the movie have been positive – though, due to its currently limited release, it’s difficult to tell if this initial enthusiasm is due to Maniac‘s quality or for an inherent enthusiasm for the slasher genre. When the movie opens more widely in the UK in just over a month, the broader critical picture should start coming into focus.


Maniac will begin stalking UK audiences on March 15, 2013. While there is currently no projected release date for US theaters, it will no doubt appear sometime in the latter half of 2013.