As an assault of “video nasty” bits hurls at the screen amongst the opening credits I anticipated a fun ride through v/h/s soaked nostalgic sleaze and I was not wrong.
Much like how Berberian Sound Studio paid homage to the Italian Giallo of the seventies without becoming a distraction, this film also tells a captivating story that just happens to be set in this world and is all the better for it.
Censor follows Enid (Neimh Algar), a severely dedicated film censor who happens to come across a clue in one of the films she views that could lead her to find her long-lost sister. After getting in touch with the slimy producer, portrayed with aberrant gusto from Michael Smiley (Kill List), she believes she’s discovered the key to unlocking this mystery as well as perhaps saving her own sanity. The further down the rabbit hole she goes, the further this film expands into a nightmarish and neon violet-shaded odyssey enraptured by Annika Summerson’s dazzling cinematography that would probably make Dario Argento grin in delight. Without giving much of the plot away, it’s dire to see this as cold as possible. I have to give a mention to veteran character actor Nick Brimble
who shows up like BOB from Twin Peaks’ sadistic cousin.
This is a hell of a debut from director Prano Bailey-Bond, who’s managed to deliver a gripping thriller that gloriously spirals into bloody mayhem that halts to a conclusion that’s sure to grab you by the throat. If you have any fondness for the video store wasteland of the eighties and the aisles we dare not travel, this one’s for us.
About the Film:
Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past.
Censor is a faithful, creative ode to 1980s aesthetics and a twisted, bloody love letter to the video nasties of the era. In her assured feature debut, director Prano Bailey-Bond re-creates a moment in which society was on the brink of mass hysteria over the dangers of viewers being seduced by violent images—and then she cleverly immerses us in the haunted Enid’s shifting reality. Actress Niamh Algar stuns as her brittle character grows increasingly possessed by her quest.
The following film contains strobe effects, extreme violence, and gore.