Censor – Review

Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 24 minutes, Director – Prano Bailey-Bond

A film censor (Niamh Algar) living through the video nasties era is haunted by a violent film which seems to match with the disappearance of her sister.

“It’s not entertainment Mum. I do it to protect people” says Enid (Niamh Algar) about her job as a film censor. Protecting people appears to be increasingly at the fore of her role as horror after horror is added to an extensive of list of video nasties that would otherwise corrupt anyone who watches them. VHS copies of The Evil Dead and Driller Killer are thrown into boxes, confiscated and banned. Meanwhile other horror titles are severely edited to remove as much violence, gore and cannibalistic content as possible. However, it never seems to be enough as more and more increasingly disturbing content is sent through the censors office. One particular title, which she’s particularly requested to oversee, crosses the line into personal relevance for Enid when it appears to match the disappearance of her sister a number of years before.

Delving into personal horror Algar’s finely performed otherwise sensible, tough-censoring figure begins to research other films by the director to find out as much as she can. Her parents have been ready to move on, obtaining a death certificate for their lost daughter, however Enid fights as much as she can hoping that her sister is still alive. As the films that Enid watches become more relevant to her life the lines between the fictional horror – featuring some fine recreated stylings of films of the era – and her own experiences become much less clear. They begin to merge into one, helped by co-writer (with Anthony Fletcher) and director Bailey-Bond’s knowledge and observances on the genre which help to heighten the escalating horror over the course of the piece.

Much of the horror comes in the third act as the lines becoming non-existent. The look of the piece begins to look like a bordering on tattered under-the-counter VHS copy of one of the many banned titles that we see throughout the film. Enid’s behaviour becomes more unhinged and she almost appears to be playing a character in one of these films. The final 20 minutes of the piece’s short rather quick-passing run-time are truly the highlight thanks to the artistic style that has gone into them. It forms an engaging and intriguing set of events that are built-up to well, if sometimes slightly quietly in comparison. All carrying on from the idea that “horror is already out there in all of us”.

Things may be slightly quiet in the build up to the excellently handled finale of Censor. However, they still hold a fair deal of interest within the story, enhanced by Bailey-Bond’s attention to detail and styles calling back to the video nasties that her film revolves around. When paired with Algar’s great central performance there’s certainly an engaging film here that culminates in a wonderful display of the central character’s gradually declined and panicked state. All set against the detailed backdrop of an increasing need to protect people against the threat of corrupting violence within video nasty scares.

Censor’s excellently observed final 20 minutes is built up to with a detailed, if slightly quiet, build-up. All containing a great central performance from Niamh Algar.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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