Elijah Wood has a speciality. Hidden in the shadow of his more pronounced hobbitry is the actor's uncanny ability to play crazy. And I'm not just talking about Sin City crazy, wherein he plays a speechless, inhuman cannibal. I also mean Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind crazy, where his desperate self-loathing drove him to feigning his entire identity to win the heart of a girl with whom he fell in love while she was undergoing the Charlie Kaufman equivalent of brain surgery. I also mean the sort of crazy that brings him to hallucinate anthropomorphic dog-men, as he does in Wilfred (which may be a little uneven so far, but always offers good performances by Wood). So, we've seen him try his hand at a few different manifestations of mental disarray, and all with great skill; but Wood's master thesis in twisted characters will take form in the upcoming Maniac.
In Maniac, directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2 and Wrong Turn at Tahoe), Wood will play an antique mannequin salesman. Not too crazy yet, but keep reading. He's also a serial killer (there it is) who stalks his victims via the Internet and kills them (there it is-er) when overcome by tormenting hallucinations of childhood traumas (not over yet) as an outlet for spiritual revenge against his abusive mother (wham, bam, thank you ma'am...is that insensitive?).
I do think Wood to be a more than adept portrayer of unbalanced, torturted individuals, as those listed above. He's also got a tender quality to him that might make hima sympathetic killer, if that's what the film wants to go for. Working in his favor still is a comedic prowes...but I'm not too certain there'll be much room for laughter in Khalfoun's movie. Maniac will begin shooting around the end of 2011.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and workaholic Park Avenue executive Angela (Rachel Nichols) winds up being waylaid in the parking garage of her office building by security guard Thomas (Wes Bentley) who’s always had this thing for her. While the rest of the city celebrates with good cheer poor pretty Angela is trying to escape the increasingly dangerous clutches of Thomas who keeps telling her he simply wants to be friends--even when he’s torturing and terrorizing her. With friends like these... The remainder of the story is taken up with Angela’s futile attempts to escape and Thomas’ futile attempts to woo her as only a true loon can. Eventually of course they go mano a mano or mano a womano as the case may be. P2 is essentially a two-character piece and both Nichols and Bentley try to give the material a lift. She’s plucky and resourceful and looks terrific even when taking a beating--which is fairly often. Bentley does just about everything but stand on his head to enliven the proceedings frequently playing the character for laughs. Sometimes he even succeeds. The only other major character is Rocky the snarling Rottweiler who is Thomas’ faithful companion and in a movie like this you know his (dog) days are numbered. Give Nichols and Bentley points for trying and give the dog a bone. Working under the auspices of producers Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur first-time feature helmer Franck Kahlfoun certainly knows his way around the camera. P2 is nothing if not a slick polished piece of work and there are a few amusing blips of black comedy--including some well-chosen Christmas tunes--but at heart this is a simple (and simple-minded) exercise in stylish suspense reminiscent of those 90-minute TV movies that proliferated in the 1970s albeit with more violence and visceral intent.