Serial scalper Frank Zito is back. Reimagining any classic 80's slasher film may seem like an uphill struggle. Most audiences have already decided what it'll be like before the opening credits have even rolled. But with the expert hand of Franck Khalfoun helming the upcoming remake of 'Maniac' starring Elijah Wood hopefully we're in for something a little more special as we join Franck and Frank in the modern day retelling of one individual's murderous tendancies and his ever descending spiral further and futher into madness.
Hi, how are
Iíve very well, thank you, how are you? Thank you for taking the time to talk with me.
So Maniac is your new film.
Please tell us about it and how it came about.
I had an old copy of the original film on VHS and I knew it quite well and
so when I was approached by Alexandre Aja and Thomas Langmann, who had
acquired the rights the venture began. It was then about how we could
relate this old movie which had such a core audience to a newer fan base.
That was how our trip began.
With the original being so
popular among that audience were you worried at all about remaking
I was terrified! (laughs) Iíd seen how people have reacted to other
remakes and having seen some myself have never really been sold on them. I
think that the error they make is to simply make the narrative without
really understanding the characters. People love the Lawrence Of Arabia
(s) as much as the real horror like Hostel and they just want films that
are good and if you try and take advantage of that and sell them crap it
just isnít going to work. I knew that if we really worked hard to do
something interesting with the material that they would appreciate what
this film is and not necessarily compare it to the original. It is its own
entity. I mean, when word went out we were remaking Maniac, and then add
that youíve got Elijah Wood in the lead role it became a free for all on
the internet (laughs). I was hated immediately!
Franck: "The violence serves a purpose".
Well, having said that then,
what was it that you saw in Elijah Wood that convinced you he was the
right actor for the role, to deliver this intense
Well first of all heís an incredible actor so youíre always going to get
that intensity but he has that innocence weíre all so familiar with and
that made it interesting to take him to this dark place. I mean with him
being a good looking guy and appealing it justified why so many women
would be attracted to him. I find it difficult to swallow sometimes when
you have these monsters who arenít like that as it makes the women dumb
and the movie doesnít function. To me Elijah has that intensity as well as
this boyish charm which benefited the film. Heís a real genre fan as well
and loves this stuff!
In this version youíve given
Frank much more back story showing his relationship with his mother and
giving some reasons as to why he became what he did. Was that something
you particularly wanted to focus on?
I just felt that, as we see the film through Frankís eyes, it was
important to get a glimpse into the life he had led and how this brought
him to where he is. Itís also that when you see him as an abused little
boy you get some empathy with him and so when he is violent it gives you
an eerie feeling. Also because the film is from the point of view it is I
felt it was important that you could see the characterís thoughts and
through dreams, and the out of body experiences serial killers talk about,
we did this.
Franck: "To me Elijah has that intensity as well as this boyish charm which benefited the film".
I did read one review that
intimated the film, and by intimation yourself, didnít accept any
ownership for the violence and almost justified or glorified what Frank
was doing. Personally I felt that in seeing the abhorrent violence through
Frankís eyes the audience is given the impression that these are acts only
a truly disturbed individual could carry it out. What are your thoughts in
Oh it absolutely doesnít glorify it. Itís exploitative though in that we
take advantage of the emotions you feel, the fear and horror that hits you
in your gut. The violence serves a purpose, in living through Frankís eyes
you see how deplorable it is and itís a feeling that youíre stuck and even
though you might want to stop it you canít, and maybe he wants to stop it
too. You have that emotion through the violence that you donít want it to
go on but itís maybe forced upon you.
Because the longest section of
the film without violence is when he meets Anna.
He wants to stop. Youíre experiencing this with him in the audience. Thereís
something profoundly visceral and itís very important that you continue to
experience something new throughout which I think works.
Given the subjective viewpoint
then was it difficult getting such strong performances from all the
supporting cast when at the end of the day they are doing most of their
acting direct to the camera?
Firstly Elijah was there everyday behind the scenes whether he was on
camera or not. This then became real collaboration between him, the
cameraman and myself which was a first for me but it enabled us to guide
the camera as Frank would act. Every move of the camera was that of the
character. I think this was maybe one of the reasons I was on board as
coming from a theatre background I am big on character development. What I
mean is that Elijahís character had to live through the other characters
and how they reacted to him. Secondly the real challenge was about
creating the fear through one point of view, one angle, and this meant
that the character had to carry the film through. This is a film that
really creeps on you without using the trickery of jumps and the like.
So having now made a remake do
you think itís becoming increasingly difficult to get original ideas made,
even though many of these remakes are of poor quality?
I think that unfortunately people donít care. When they do a remake theyíre
maybe not particularly big fans of the movie but theyíve acquired a brand
and are gonna make a lot of money. Which doesnít work, it doesnít have the
substance required to attract the audience. Marketing is such a big part
of it that you can make a schlock and still make money. Weíre not
reinventing anything but youíve got to dig deep and make something
compelling whether original or not.
"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the
Check out our 'Maniac' review here.