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By James Whittington, Friday 28th January 2022 Censor Second Sight Films Certificate 18 *****
For those of us old enough to remember the Video Nasty era of the early 80s, Prano Bailey-Bond's incredible debut, Censor will put you right back amongst the thick of it. With superb characterisations and a challenging almost uncomfortable atmosphere, this is one of the first "must-have" releases of 2022.
Enid (Niamh Algar) spends her days meticulously watching and assessing gruesomely violent and disturbing movies, taking her work as a film censor very seriously. She holds a strong sense of responsibility in protecting audiences from extreme content, subconsciously driven by the guilt she holds from a disturbing childhood trauma. When a troubling film lands on her desk, Enid finds herself embroiled in the story and slowly starts to uncover some of her lost memories that seem strangely similar to the film. Consumed by the need to find if there is a connection between the production and the disappearance of her sister, her life spirals out of control, descending into darkness and danger.
Bold throughout its duration with a stunning central performance from Algar, Censor takes a controversial time in home entertainment history and mixes it with a genuinely chilling premise. It truly brings to life this period of mass hysteria, of the fear of bringing "horror into the home" and the influence it could have on the general public. Scapegoating is key to the plot whilst also commenting on the difficult task bodies like the BBFC have. Now I agree in ratings and that watching age-appropriate material is key, but blaming films, especially horror, for violence in society is another story. Censor covers this tricky subject whilst adding elements of guilt and serious trauma, twisting them into a journey of dark discovery for Enid. By viewing things that are grotesque and deliberately controversial she manages to unravel her past, but then again does she? As she views each film from a director of notoriety, Frederick North (Adrian Schiller) her mind becomes swamped and confused by information, some of it true, some of it false.
Deliberately challenging yet accessible, the film quickly delivers its message and carefully mesmerizes the viewer with invention and intelligent storytelling.
This special edition comes with comes as a two-disc box set presented in a rigid slipcase with new artwork by James Neal and a soft cover book with brand new essays and art cards. The slew of special features include: three brand-new audio commentaries and new interviews with cast and crew and so much more.
This is an audacious, raw, clever and twisted piece of cinema and can make us only wonder with anticipation what this talented new creative will deliver next.
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