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.