07/25/2013 01:38 EDT | Updated 09/23/2013 05:12 EDT

New Zealand bans general release of serial killer film 'Maniac,' starring Elijah Wood

SYDNEY - New Zealand has banned a horror film starring Elijah Wood as a scalp-collecting serial killer because it's too graphic and disturbing for the public.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification action means "Maniac" 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 the film's graphic violence could harm the public.

Monster Pictures, distributor of the film for Australia and New Zealand, said on Thursday that the decision was a gross overreaction.

The remake of a 1980 slasher film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year.

Wood is part of the large ensemble cast in the New Zealand-filmed trilogies, "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings."