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Wood finds NZ ban of Maniac 'ironic'

Last updated 05:00 29/10/2013
Elijah Wood
MANIAC: Elijah Wood says he finds it ironic and funny that New Zealand authorities have banned his new movie, Maniac.

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Elijah Wood, once New Zealand's pet Hobbit, finds it "kind of ironic" that his slasher film Maniac has been banned there.

Wood called New Zealand home while he starred in Sir Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

But Kiwi authorities banned Maniac in July, on the grounds that it gave viewers a sense of "vicarious participation" in some particularly bloody murders.

Maniac, directed by Franck Khalfoun, is a horror remake about a serial killer who scalps his victims. New Zealand government officials refused the film both a theatrical and a DVD release.

"It's certainly ironic and kind of funny," Wood said.

"Certainly a country that I love so much and had spent so much time in, for that country to ban the movie, I found kind of humorous."

The gruesome murders committed by Wood's character Frank in Maniac are seen in full gory detail, thanks to the movie's first person perspective.

The first person POV (point of view) was one of the things that drew Wood to Maniac - and was also why the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification banned the movie.

For Wood, the idea that the POV would force the audience to live out the character's deeds was "potentially very disturbing and really visually exciting".

But in a written explanation, the New Zealand authorities felt that while Maniac did not promote or support the murders, the POV-style invites audiences "to enjoy cruel and violent behaviour" and says its "packaging as entertainment is likely to lead to an erosion of empathy for some viewers".

To put it simply, Wood says New Zealand's authorities were worried that the POV style in Maniac would inspire copycat killers.

"I actually think that in a way, that disregards the intelligence of the audience," Wood says.

In the past, movies like Natural Born Killers and Scream have been blamed for inspiring copycat murders.

However, Wood did not agree the responsibility lies with the film.

"If someone is going to carry out a violent act on somebody else, it's within their DNA already, there's already something within them that is capable of doing something like that," he says.

While it was hard for Wood to be objective, he did not really feel Maniac was as disturbing or incendiary as Kiwi government officials believe.

"I think for some movies there might be more justification for a banning. I find that there's not really much for this one in particular," he says.

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The ban means New Zealanders can only watch Maniac at film festivals and for academic viewing.

In Australia, however, the R18+ film is already available on DVD and will screen at select cinemas in November.



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