Maniac Cop

Maniac Cop ★★★

A paranoid slasher with a strong political and social grounding - which sets it apart from other similar films. It's typical to see social/political themes appear as subtext in slasher films, yet here (at least in the first half) they're pretty much the text of the film.

The first act establishes the killer as something far bigger and far more dangerous than just a man. Or even just a rogue policeman. It's the personification of uniform, authority and oppression. During our first encounters with the killer, we don't see the man - but just the uniform. A slow and careful transformation of identity as the uniform is carefully put on. It doesn't seem important who is behind the uniform. The killer becomes this representation of mistrust and fear that spreads paranoia across the streets of NY. Civilians are in a situation in which they fear both police and criminal, and the film expresses this hysteria in a a very direct and blunt manner.

It's the moments in which the killer is cast in shadows, only his gold badge or white gloves showing, or before he beats someone to death in which for a split second he's seen as a symbol for hope, that really captures a feeling of hopelessness. However, in the films latter stages, and specifically in the reveal of the killer, the film flounders. It reverts back to a run of the mill slasher film, introducing extraordinary elements that only seem to lessen the films political/social themes. It's no longer a film set in NY, but a re-purposed and re-imagined NY with reanimated corpses driving police cars. Whilst there's still entertainment to be had, theres also a distance between us and the film. Whereas there was a familiarity in those opening moments.

The film feels fully realised in its first act, yet unfortunately falls into cliched territory as it progresses.

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