MANIAC (2011) Short Film Review

Directed by: Shia LaBeouf
Starring: Chris Palko, Kid Cudi

I'd heard that Shia LaBeouf had written and directed a few short films but it wasn't until this week that I actually managed to check one of them out. Seeing as MANIAC is about serial killers I thought it would be a good place to start.

MANIAC is a short mockumentary film in which a camera crew follow the exploits of a pair of serial killers as they try to reach their goal of 8 murders each. If that sounds familiar then perhaps you've seen MAN BITES DOG from 1992 which took a similar path although it explored a lot more themes and ended up being a fairly multifaceted black comedy. MANIAC seems to be more of an exercise in style over substance however and although I know you can only fit so much into a 10 minute short I would have preferred if there were a little more here storywise. But then the story isn't really important because as far as I know this short film is just a platform to showcase Kid Cudi and Chris Palko's collaboration on the track Maniac, or something like that. I'm not too familiar with either artist but that's what I understand anyway.

But aside from the wafer thin plot there is plenty to enjoy about this short because visually and technically it is really quite good. Black & white is used effectively as is the color grading and there are a lot of nice shots including the slow opening tracking shot. Even the action shots are followed fairly well and the soundtrack fits the film quite nicely. I did have an issue with the use of CGI blood at one point and there is a fairly questionable scene involving a molotov cocktail that doesn't seem to act like a molotov cocktail really should, but apart from that there are far worse ways to spend 10 minutes of your life.

If you're a fan of Shia, Kid Cudi or Cage then you should probably check this out, and even if you're simply a fan of short film there is enough going on here to hold your attention for the full running time. Even though there's barely a plot and obviously a lot borrowed from MAN BITES DOG, I found this to be an enjoyable short film and if nothing else it looks great. And you can find the full film on Youtube (or below).

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