Sheer panic ensued in the United Kingdom during the 1980s with the rising popularity of movies on video cassette, specifically gory horror and exploitation films. These violent movies were coined "video nasties" and were considered to be responsible for immoral behavior in the real world, so they were severely censored prior to release or completely banned altogether.
Censor is an engaging horror movie set during the 80s and the main character, Enid Baines (Niamh Algar, recently seen in Wrath of Man), works as a film censor. Day in and day out, she sits through bloody horror films and decides what scenes to take out. Enid is quiet, unassuming, and takes her job seriously. She is also haunted by her past. When they were children, she and her sister got lost in a forest, and her sister disappeared that day. Enid has a very foggy memory of what happened.
Presently, though, her parents want to declare her sister dead, and one of the movies she has to watch has eerie similarities to the forest incident in which her sister had gone missing. These new events have sparked her memory. Or is it a manufactured memory?
First time feature director Prano Bailey-Bond seems to have been inspired by the works of David Cronenberg, David Lynch, and Sam Raimi, yet this lucid nightmare of a movie feels fresh and innovative. It never feels like a collection of spare parts from other movies, but rather a cohesive whole. And at times, I wasn't quite sure where the story was headed, and that's a good thing because it kept me invested in the movie. The 1980s setting isn't there for kitsch value either, but an actual important element of the story.
At its core, of course, is a knock out performance by Algar. Through a quiet demeanor, Algar allows us to get the feeling that something sad or maybe even sinister is going on inside Enid.
Censor is currently playing at The Prytania Theatres at Canal Place and is also available to rent on Amazon Prime Video and Google Play.
*** stars (out of four)