Censor is a new independent horror movie from Prano Bailey-Bond in her feature length directing debut.
The horror-drama was recently screened at the annual Sundance Film Festival, and is currently seeking distribution in the United States. The official synopsis can be read below.
CENSOR OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
After viewing a strangely familiar video nasty, Enid, a film censor, sets out to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance, embarking on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality.
When selecting the films I was most interested in watching while attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival, my first ever (Hooray!), Censor caught my eye for one primary reason: The promise of extreme violence presented by the viewer discretion advised warning. As a horror fan and a lover of the grotesque, disturbing and horrific, I was thrilled to see such tantalizing danger signs coupled with an image of a bloody woman with glazed-over eyes sitting in what appeared to be some sort of Hell dimension.
Dark combinations such as that are what horror aficionado’s dream of, and while Censor may not have cracked my horror top ten, it certainly slashed, ripped and teared it’s way through my mind, cementing itself as a notable work for a number of reasons.
One of my favorite aspects of this film is how uniquely relatable it was to me, as someone who writes about film. While I have no intention of working for the MPAA in the future, it was quite easy to visualize myself in Enid’s shoes, working to protect impressionable young audiences from the dangers of hyper-violent, excessive cinema.
CENSOR BRINGS HEARTBREAKING HORROR TO SUNDANCE
Enid’s work is courageous, and brave, and it’s clear to the viewers that she only seeks to help the film-loving people of Britain. Enid’s heart beats with a desire to protect both the audience and her long-lost sister. As her ability to fulfill those goals slips through her fingers and her best efforts are rejected painfully, our protagonist begins to slowly unravel.
This film is the story of one woman’s descent from the concrete reality of the material world into a grisly cinematic production brimming with lies, deceit, and gut-churning darkness. The so-called “video nasties” which Enid spends countless hours dissecting every week lay out the format of this twisted new reality, and director Prano Bailey-Bond does an incredible job crafting this false reality which consumes the main character, and the lives of several men who enter her trajectory.
CENSOR IS A TALE OF DEBILITATING LOSS AT ITS CORE
The heavily synthesized score ripped right from the eighties (the time setting of Censor) pairs perfectly with the grainy, unpolished VFX utilized to draw the line between the real world and the nightmare Enid finds herself walking through. The singular moment where this trick doesn’t hold up is when CGI is selected over practical bloodwork. The vintage set design and filmmaking techniques seen within the movies Enid watches are wonderful relics of the past, and computer-generated imagery had no place interrupting such a beautiful love letter to decades past.
Graphic depictions of violence, assault, and a plethora of other unspeakable acts are sure to put a knot in your stomach, but what is that cinematic hellscape compared to the nightmare of unresolved loss? Enid’s sister disappeared at a young age while the two were out together, and she was never found. Memories of that night are fuzzy and incomplete in Enid’s mind, no doubt lending even more guilt and trauma to an already unthinkable situation. The inability to accept the disappearance and probable death of her sister is the poison that destroys Enid, and I have to applaud the creative team for telling such a poignant story in such unique and imaginative fashion.
Censor featured an incredibly strong performance from leading lady Niahm Algar. A decent supporting cast lends the film a sense of polish and quality remiss in many independent films, but no performance in this film quite shined like that of Algar as Enid. This is her story through and through, and it is told remarkably well, especially for a first-time director. The plot is consistently engaging, keeping you on your toes with each development. The pacing could use some fine-tuning, but this is balanced out by the fairly short runtime of only 84 minutes.
I would highly recommend Censor to fans of arthouse horror, and to those who know the damage that a loss of a loved one can yield. Let us know your thoughts on the movie in the comments below or on our social media!