New Zealand bans film told from serial killer’s perspective

Elijah Wood, a scalp-collecting serial killer in 'Maniac'

New Zealand has banned a controversial horror film, starring Elijah Wood as a scalp-collecting serial killer, from general release after the government deemed it too graphic and disturbing for the public.

The remake of 1980 slasher film about a killer who scalps his victims was released in Ireland in March of this year but now cannot be screened anywhere in New Zealand other than film festivals or as part of academic study. DVDs of the film will not be allowed for sale.

The government censor said that Maniac, which is shot 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 on Saturday.

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 given that the idea of shooting the film from the killer’s point of view has been around since the 1960s.

Maniac premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year and has received mixed reviews.

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.

More on this topic

Nick Park: Aardman fire 'no big deal' in world context

'Entire Wallace and Gromit history' lost in warehouse fire


Liz O’Brien talks to Niall Breslin about his admiration for frontline staff, bereavement in lockdown, his new podcast, and why it's so important for us all just to slow down.Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

Podcasts are often seen as a male domain — see the joke, 'What do you call two white men talking? A podcast'.Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Whether you’re on staycation or risking a trip away, Marjorie Brennan offers suggestions on novels for a wide variety of tastesThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

More From The Irish Examiner