Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

New Zealand bans Elijah Wood movie

Elijah Wood plays a scalp-collecting serial killer in Maniac

Elijah Wood's horror film Maniac has been banned from general release in New Zealand after the government deemed it too graphic and disturbing for the public.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification's action means the film - Franck Khalfoun's remake of the 1980 slasher film about a killer who scalps his victims - cannot be screened anywhere other than film festivals or as part of academic study. DVDs of the film will not be allowed for sale.

The government censor said in its classification that Maniac, which is shot entirely from the killer's point of view, contains graphic violence and "content that may disturb," and said a wide release of the film "is likely to be injurious to the public good".

"The murders are depicted in first-person perspective, inviting a viewer's vicarious participation," the agency 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."

The ban was condemned by the film's regional distributor and organisers of the New Zealand International Film Festival, which will be screening the movie.

Monster Pictures, distributor of the film for Australia and New Zealand, said suggestions that Maniac minimises the impact of violence are ridiculous, and called the ban an insult to the intelligence of New Zealanders.

The film is hardly the first time a horror film has featured the villain's point of view, said Monster Pictures manager Neil Foley, citing the 1960 thriller Peeping Tom, in which a serial killer films his victims' deaths.

"It's nothing new," Mr Foley said. "To be honest, we think it's kind of a gross overreaction."

Ant Timpson, a programmer for the New Zealand film festival, said the idea that the film's first-person perspective could be harmful was a "big leap".

"It's saying that the (point of view) nature of the film mixed with the psychopathic behaviour of actor Elijah Wood is more than disturbing, that it's potentially dangerous in the hands of the wrong person (that is, a non-festival goer)," Mr Timpson said in a statement.

"It's only my opinion but I simply don't agree with this decision."

Maniac premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year and has received mixed reviews. The Hollywood Reporter dubbed it "essentially a sadistic art-house bloodbath", while Variety said: "This merciless work of anti-entertainment is arguably admirable for being as disturbingly disgusting as it wants to be."

Elijah Wood is well known throughout New Zealand, the filming location for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which the actor played a decidedly less sinister character - hobbit Frodo Baggins.

The last film in New Zealand to be banned from general release was The Bridge, a 2006 documentary about suicides at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News

Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Virgo:

Working on a journal can help you process troubling feeling. It's healthy to have a place where you can express yourself without fear of censure. Social media is all well and good, but it's not a place to be totally uninhibited. Save your innermost thoughts for a diary. A troubled romance has been weighing on your mind. You're tired of compromising for the sake of a demanding partner. Being more assertive is critical to the survival of your relationship. You should have your desires met, too.More