New Zealand bans Elijah Wood horror film Maniac

Elijah Wood in Maniac Maniac was released in the UK in March

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A horror remake starring Hobbit actor Elijah Wood has been banned in New Zealand due to its "graphic violence" and "content that may disturb".

Maniac has been restricted to festival film screenings and academic viewing by government officials and will not be eligible for mainstream cinema or DVD release in the country.

The film, directed by Frank Khalfoun, stars Wood as serial killer Frank.

Neil Foley of distributor Monster Pictures said he was "flabbergasted".

The director of the Australia-based company said the ban was an "insult to the intelligence" of adults in New Zealand.

The film, which received a limited UK release in March, is due to screen at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland and Wellington at the end of July.

Ant Timpson, a programmer for the festival, said the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) was concerned that the movie was "injurious to the public good".

"It's saying that the POV [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," Timpson suggested.

The original version of Maniac, by slasher director William Lustig, was a cult hit when it was first released in 1980.

The remake received mixed reviews in the UK press, with The Observer's Philipp French calling it "unwelcome".

The Hollywood Reporter's Megan Lehmann said the film was a "sadistic art-house bloodbath" when it screened at Cannes in 2012.

Monster Pictures said on its website that it would "explore every option" to have the ban revoked, though admitted "at this stage it ain't looking good".

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