‘In the New York of MANIAC, Dox Shops offer customers access to others’ personal information for a price; Poop Bots, clunky little robots, clean up after city dogs so their owners don’t have to; and with Friend Proxy, it’s possible to hire someone to pretend to be your friend, offering all the benefits of friendship without the effort’.
Set in a world somewhat like our world, in a time quite similar to our time, MANIAC tells the stories of Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) and Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill), two strangers drawn to the late stages of a mysterious pharmaceutical trial, each for their own reasons.
Annie’s disaffected and aimless, fixated on broken relationships with her mother and her sister; Owen, the fifth son of wealthy New York industrialists, has struggled his whole life with a disputed diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Neither of their lives have turned out quite right, and the promise of a new, radical kind of pharmaceutical treatment—a sequence of pills its inventor, Dr. James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux), claims can repair anything about the mind, be it mental illness or heartbreak—draws them and ten other strangers to the facilities of Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech for a three-day drug trial that will, they’re assured, with no complications or side-effects whatsoever, solve all of their problems, permanently.
Kind and soft-spoken Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill) lives alone in a micro-apartment on Roosevelt Island, 87% of his salary going toward rent. The black sheep of a well-to-do family since a psychotic episode ten years ago, Owen still has a pretty shaky grasp of reality. When an unexpected furlough from his temp job in data entry leaves him broke, Owen learns of a possible fix to his problems: Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech’s latest drug trial, which offers the potential for Owen to earn a substantial sum.
An unemployed bartender and failed artist, Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone) has an unhealthy relationship with a certain Neberdine pharmaceutical pill that allows her to re-live a haunting trauma. When she runs out of her precious pills, Annie’s feverish quest for more leads her to the NPB drug trial, which would offer a continued supply. One quick trip to the Dox Stop store later, Annie blackmails her way right into the Neberdine’s Lab C, five stories beneath a Lower Manhattan high-rise.
Now in a group of twelve subjects in the three-day, 24/7 pharmaceutical trial, Owen (#1) and Annie (#9) sit in NPB’s experiment room with their fellow Odds to begin a three pill sequence meant to deliver healing by initiating delusions or “reflections” with each dose. Owen and Annie each pop an “A” pill, their brains monitored by Neberdine’s room-sized G.R.T.A. mainframe computer, and the countdown begins.
MANIAC’s supporting cast includes Gabriel Byrne ( Miller’s Crossing, In Treatment ) and Trudie Styler ( Falling Water, The Night Of ) as Owen’s parents, Hank Azaria ( Brockmire, Ray Donovan), as Annie’s father Hank, Julia Garner( Ozark, Martha Marcy May Marlene ) as Annie’s sister Ellie, and Billy Magnussen ( Into the Woods, The Big Short) as Owen’s brother Jed.
MANIAC is now available to stream or download from Netflix.