Video Nasty Throwback Censor (2021) Intertwines Psychosis and Horror
First Non-Festival Release: June 11, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Prano Bailey-Bond
Writer: Prano Bailey-Bond, Anthony Fletcher
Runtime: 84 Minutes
Starring: Niamh Algar, Michael Smiley, Sophia La Porta
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Enid (Niamh Algar) is a film censor who takes her job extremely seriously. After her sister’s disappearance, Enid is obsessed with keeping the public safe and deterring crimes from occurring by shaping cinema in accordance to her own values. She finds herself drawn back into the mystery of her missing sister when her parents share that they have filed for an official death certificate, despite the absence of a body or confirmation she has died. Concurrently she finds herself the center of a controversy about the release of a film she personally censored which her critics claim caused an influx of violence. Soon, Enid will find herself following a dark path that will lead to her finding out the truth may be worse than her imagination.
A stylistic and uncompromising film, Censor is a tightly packaged horror mystery that should satisfy most genre fans.
Censor flows together like a nightmarish horror film that Enid reviews, The blurring between reality and fiction gets murky in this film, but it gets incredibly cool when the film shows them merge completely. The aspect ratio changes to something tighter and more intimate, it gets grainier and more sensationalized, and the set gets bathed in bright neon or pastel lights. Everything blurs together nicely between reality and fiction. Top notch set design and a hypnotic score complete the show in its twisted vision of retribution. It’s marvelous.
Enid is such a unique character. Her drive to protect others is born from her unresolved childhood trauma of losing her sister. She embodies everything that a person would expect a self-sacrificing censor would: she is meticulous, dedicated, and has tunnel vision. It’s Niamh Algar’s show and she does a great job unraveling in a convincing and sympathetic manner. Getting lost in your own noble pursuit isn’t rewarded in the manner one would hope and Enid’s quest to make up for her amnesia becomes her undoing. While it doesn’t feel completely strung together in the end, it’s a chilling journey that makes for some uncomfortable and trippy moments.
The idea of placing blame on art for the indiscretions of humans makes for a compelling story, and Censor tells it well. Not only does this stem from Enid’s own personal beliefs but it transforms into something gnarlier when greater society gets involved. From a cinematic perspective, I love that Enid is met with pushback from not doing her job. Even when she thinks she is this perfect, orderly person doing the work for the greater good she slips up and lets something out the public doesn’t like. She faces that backlash. I hate it only from the perspective that it’s annoying that the general public can pass so much vitriol on a person. It’s very much relevant to the present-day conversation about cancel culture, whether you agree that it exists and to what degree if so.
This dark and simmering slow burn will not be for everyone. When I say slow burn, I mean it. Censor creeps to the finish line, taking liberties with its path towards a finale. While Algar gets plenty of screen time and is excellent in her role, the rest of the cast meanders about before getting tapped for their next short scene. They feel under-utilized, even in service to Enid. In the end, it doesn’t quite have the “wow” factor for me. It’s an exceptional film but it doesn’t have that spark.
Enjoyable enough but not incredibly exciting, Censor works for those seeking out more artistic horror. Personally, I appreciate it more for its artistry than its entertainment. It’s not an engaging film to me. The use of color, a strong leading performance, and a storyline dripping in intrigue and social insight makes Censor an appealing and gratifying watch. I certainly recommend for any horror fan and anyone who wants to watch a nice psychological horror film. While not incredibly nasty, this video is one you’ll find meeting your elevated standards.
Overall Score? 6/10