Maniac: Elijah Wood's Slasher Film In NZ Ban

Maniac: Elijah Wood's Slasher Film In NZ Ban

A horror movie starring Elijah Wood as a scalp-collecting serial killer has been banned in New Zealand after censors decided it was too graphic and disturbing for the public.

The decision means the film, which was directed by Frank Khalfoun, can only be shown at festivals or as part of academic study. It will also be unavailable on DVD.

Maniac, a remake of a 1980 slasher film, is shot entirely from the perspective of Frank, the serial killer played by Wood.

"The murders are depicted in first-person perspective, inviting a viewer's vicarious participation," the Office of Film and Literature Classification wrote in a summary of its reasons behind the restriction.

"While the feature does not actively promote or support this material, the tacit invitation to enjoy cruel and violent behaviour through its first-person portrayal and packaging as entertainment is likely to lead to an erosion of empathy for some viewers."

It said the movie contained "content that may disturb" and a wide release "is likely to be injurious to the public good".

Monster Pictures, the distributor of the film in Australia and New Zealand, said the decision was a gross overreaction and an insult to the intelligence of New Zealanders.

Maniac premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year to mixed reviews.

The Hollywood Reporter's Megan Lehmann said the film was a "sadistic art-house bloodbath".

Wood is well-known in New Zealand as part of the large ensemble cast in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, which were filmed in the country.