Director Franck (P2) Khalfoun has definitely made his mark on the world of disturbing horror cinema with his second full length film. An update of the infamous 1980 Grindhouse classic, the plot, though very simplistic, completely and successfully captures the imagination of its audience in the opening sequence, spotlighting its stars acting ability as well as the director's own knack for ultra-realism. This is a task that the original failed to accomplish in its entirety, let alone its pre-credits scene.
Though the directing is superb, especially for a relatively unknown filmmaker, the movie is vastly superior to the original due to its stellar screenplay, co-written by Gregory (Mirrors, The Hills Have Eyes) Levasseur and Alexandre (High Tension, Piranha) Aja. This trio of fillmakers combined are the next heir apparent to horror master Wes (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) Craven, and they prove it by taking such a colossal flop of an original and updating it to the point of near perfection. In one of quite possibly the most disturbing films ever made, star Elijah (The Lord of the Rings series, The Faculty) Wood is expertly cast as cold and calculating Frank, a loner living in his deceased mother's mannequin shop and harboring an extreme fetish for scalping pretty women he stalks on the streets. Told entirely from Frank's perspective, the camera is literally his eyes, only giving the occasional glimpse through mirrors and other neat camera tricks of the main character's own face.
Perhaps the greatest strength of this character study piece in depravity is the performance, which is much more than simply a voiceover, by Wood. Usually typecast in either the fantasy genre or as the loveable nerd, this was a strange and brave career choice for him as an actor seemingly forever trapped on the B-list. Though this is not the type of film that will appeal to most audiences (and the producers obviously knew that, not giving it a theatrical release), this is certainly a highlight among his quite outstanding career from child actor to respectable adult movie star. It takes a lot these days to shock the average audience, and though some will seek this film out because they are familiar with the original, most will be genuinely shocked by the general plot and uncomfortable portrayal of such savage violence. And if the audience has not seen the original, they are in for a true surprise indeed. This is, as it stands, one of the best films of the year. And sadly, most people will not even give it a try because they have never even heard of its existence. And even then, the genre may turn them off completely. But rest assured, this is not only one of Wood's best performances of his career, but possibly the best film in this trio of behind-the-scenes masters as well.