With only two days left until The Weeknd’s third studio album Starboy is released, the Toronto native is in full promo mode. Having already appeared on Saturday Night Live, the MTV EMAs, and Sunday night’s American Music Awards, The Weekend is now turning his efforts to his brand new short film.
Teasing it earlier this week on his social media, The Weeknd has now released his 12-minute film MANIA, directed by frequent collaborator Grant Singer, who was also behind The Weeknd’s videos for “The Hills,” “Tell Your Friends,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” and most recently, “Starboy.”
Using the pair’s recent collaboration on the album’s title track as the inspiration, MANIA matches the music video’s look of dark Hollywood excess, while keeping the focus on The Weeknd’s natural showmanship.
MANIA opens with a futuristic white stage made up of multi-level platforms. On the highest platform sits the same black panther from the “Starboy” video, possibly The Weeknd’s spirit animal. We’re just guessing.
The Weeknd makes his first appearance in the following scene, driving the same car on the same stretch of the Hollywood Hills he’s driving through at the end of “Starboy,” but this time we see where he ends up. Thanks to his brand-new hairstyle, The Weeknd is now able to rock baseball hat, which he does while hanging out in a dark and packed dance club. After spotting model Anais Mali, the two lock eyes, an exchange that is noticed by actor John Holland. The two men come face-to-face in the club’s bathroom, a scene that ends in bloody massacre.
Previously released songs from Starboy play throughout the film, including “Party Monster” and the Daft Punk produced “I Feel It Coming,” which plays as the credits roll— a startling juxtaposition with the sunshine-y track and bloodied Mali and The Weeknd paired together. The Weeknd’s collaboration with Future on “All I Know” plays for a few seconds at the beginning of the film, as does the song “Sidewalks” with Kendrick Lamar. Today’s short film also gives fans their first exposure to the track “Secrets,” which borrows the chorus from The Romantics 1983 hit “Talking In Your Sleep.”
The simple yet engaging 12-minute MANIA was written by The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, and keeps the focus solely on Mali and himself—thankfully forgoing the often painful dialogue we’ve heard in longform music videos and short films from artists like Taylor Swift and Drake. If the lines are important enough to say, put them in a song.
If the purpose of MANIA is to show off The Weeknd’s work as a script writer, it achieved that successfully. If it was to be used as teaser to get fans interested in hearing the rest of Starboy, it did that too.
In addition to MANIA, The Weeknd is also gearing up for the Friday release of Starboy with pop up shops in Toronto, Tokyo, Melbourne and Berlin, and his appearance at the inaugural iHeartRadio Canada Jingle Ball in Toronto, also this Friday.
Watch The Weeknd’s MANIA below.