Monday, July 12, 2010

Maniacts (2001)

What an odd little film! I’d never really heard of Maniacts before, but happened upon it while browsing Netflix. Starring genre regular Jeff Fahey and recognizable actress Kellie Waymire, Maniacts is a weird mix of drama, romance, comedy and horror. It certainly doesn’t always work because of its slow pace and lackluster atmosphere, but it is undeniably original.

It tells the tale of “Blueblood” serial killer Joseph (Jeff Fahey) who is sent to a mental hospital after he is caught and convicted of murdering six people. There he meets the quirky Beth (Kellie Waymire) and the two fall in love. Joe escapes, but returns to the institution to rescue Beth. The two try to leave their murderous pasts behind them and lead a normal life on a farm, but find “normal” life can be just as crazy.

The strongest part of the film is the acting from both Fahey and Waymire. Though their characters are psychotic murderers, you still come to like them both. Despite the film’s slow pacing, they are the ones that keep you watching.

Speaking of, the film’s pacing if probably its biggest flaw. It starts off very slow and the action never really takes off. There are a few scenes of bloodshed (including a nice impalement and a memorable death by water hose), but I wouldn’t really call the film “horror”. It feels like more of a mix of Natural Born Killers and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The tone is also uneven and vacillates between B-movie comedy and melodramatic romance.

The atmosphere also feels off and lacking, making the whole film fall flat. While the film is unique, I wish it had a bit more bite and edge. It is pretty dialogue heavy, but I wish it had spent more time developing the characters instead of the lame dialogue (except for the AWESOME line, “Welcome. I will now demonstrate the payback-is-a-bitch procedure”) it featured.

Maniacts is no doubt like nothing you’ve seen, but its slow pace and lack of atmosphere really hamper its original storyline. Check it out if you are a fan of Jeff Fahey or weird, little-seen flicks, but personally this film didn’t really do it for me.

Available from Amazon!

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