New Zealand Bans Elijah Wood Horror Movie 'Maniac'

Elijah Wood in "Maniac."

The country's censors said the fact the film is shot from the point of view of the killer, played by Wood, could make it "injurious to the public good."

Elijah Wood’s performance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy helped put New Zealand on the global filmmaking map, but the country isn’t welcoming him back with open arms in his latest role, as a psychopathic killer in slasher film Maniac.

In a decision revealed on Wednesday, the country’s censor, the Office of Film and Literature Classification, banned the film from general screening in New Zealand, saying it can’t be shown outside of film festivals. The ruling also means the movie can’t be distributed on DVD at a later date.

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A remake of William Lustig’s grindhouse cult classic from 1980, the film was directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2, 2007) and produced by Thomas Langmann (The Artist, 2011). It opened in the U.S. last month courtesy of IFC Midnight and had its world premiere at Cannes in 2012. It’s due to screen next at the New Zealand International Film Festival, running July 26 through Aug. 11.

Explaining the ruling, Ant Timpson, a programmer for the New Zealand fest, said in a statement that the OFLC had declared that “the POV nature of the film mixed with the psychopathic behavior of actor Elijah Wood is more than disturbing, it’s potentially dangerous in the hands of the wrong person -- that is, a non-festivalgoer.”

Neil Foley, of Monster Pictures, the film’s Australia-based distributor, said in a post on the company’s website: “Banning the film beyond festival screenings is an insult to the intelligence of the adult population of New Zealand and does little more than to serve as an open invitation to illegally pirate the film.”

“We will explore every option to have the banning revoked, but at this stage it [isn’t] looking good,” he added.

The last film to get New Zealand’s strict festival-only rating was Eric Steel’s San Francisco-set suicide documentary The Bridge in 2007.