As somebody who actually saw the Lustig original in the theaters back in 1980 (go ahead, rupture my stones and call me a dusty old relic, let's see what you blouses look like at forty-four), it'd be effortless for me to portray the role of Pist Pisstofferson, for whom fun, time, and joy have all long since passed by, and spiritedly slag off this latest remake from the New Wave of French Horror's dynamic duo of Franck Khalfoun and Alexandre Aja as another unnecessary and unoriginal one in a pungent, growing heap, but I'll reserve such harsh judgment for more deserving movies. This particular remake is kind of a hoot. People seem surprised that an actor like Elijah Wood is as convincing and effective as a mentally unhinged psychopath as he is here, but I've been in his corner since Green Street Hooligans (cinematic thuggery wins me over every time), and though he isn't nearly as overweight as Joe Spinell was in the original, he manages to look every bit as sweaty and unwashed. That's impressive.
"May I photograph your stiff?", queries the innocent Anna (Nora Arnezeder).
Frank (Wood) has some serious issues, thanks in major part to a psychologically destructive upbringing from a nymphomaniac called Mom (America Olivo)( who's more concerned about scoring her next 80's style-flashback double penetration than her son's mental well-being), not the least of which being constant crippling migraine headaches accompanied by vivid hallucinations that force him to abuse his prescribed anti-psychotic meds, as he tries to carve out a living for himself in the family business, antiquing and restoring vintage department store mannequins. Being a slight, unthreatening creep unhampered by girlfriends does allow for the pursuit of hobbies, as we see Frank enjoys a number, himself, like stalking and murdering random women, scalping them, and nailing the pulpy trophies to the foreheads of his favorite dummies in his secret hideaway. I collect first editions of books, but everybody's got their own bag, man.
"I warned you not to sing 'Frodo of the Nine Fingers' within earshot of me again, tonight!"
After Frank blows through several victims like an e-date, a young clubber, and a gallerist, in the same way yours cruelly goes through a pack of cool mentholated doogs on any given evening, he meets a beautiful young artist named Anna (Arnezeder), who's seemingly the only girl in the city who's able to see past Frank's awkward, lonely exterior and free the beauty and art that's trapped within as they get to know each other. Actually, rather than the dimepiece she portrays, to score Frankie-boy's dummies for her upcoming art exhibit, she turns out to be just another dime a dozen, self-serving egotist chick with a jerk off boy friend, that you find yourself cheering on to get the next close haircut. In the end, his fragile grip on reality slips away, and he's forced to face physical manifestations of his broken subconscious, with similar results to the original's conclusion...
"Owwwwww! Awful touchy about that tv movie 'Day-O' you did, aren't you?"
For every thing I wasn't stoked about seeing (the CG gore comes off clunky and artificial in a few spots, as per usual these days) here, I found two that I enjoyed (the first person perspective was effectively executed, allowing for some inventive shot selection throughout, and French newcomer Nora Arnezeder is an acceptably cute replacement for legendary Hammer vixen Caroline Munro, as the film's main eye candy on display), but I still can't avoid the inevitable comparisons to the original film, whose downer vibes and groundbreaking gore still have people talking about it over thirty years later. Though this is decent enough in it's own right, nobody's gonna be talking about it thirty days later. On the scale, the Khalfoun remake peels back a bloody chunk of scalp to reveal a respectable deuce. Check it out, and let me know what you think.
"That's the last time I smoke bath salts in Gandalf's dressing room..."