Censor film review: This brilliant video nasty by rights should make a killing

·2-min read

Here’s another sly British horror fable from a promising young woman. If you loved Saint Maud, you have to check out Prano Bailey-Bond’s debut, which, like Rose Glass’s masterpiece, revolves around a guilt-ridden woman with a saviour complex. English film censor Enid (preternaturally intense Irish actress Niamh Algar) in no way deserves a halo. But you’ll root for her to the bloody end.

It’s the mid 80s and the tabloids are obsessed with “video nasties” and one particular copy-cat killing. Enid gets caught up in the hysteria, though her focus is on an eerie thriller (Don’t Go in the Church) that touches on a tragedy from her past.

Enid, by the way, has an unhealthy pallor, never lets her hair down and wears the kind of glasses sported by Dr Evadne Hinge. Yet when Don’t Go In the Church’s camp and lecherous producer (Michael Smiley; jaw-droppingly disturbing) claps eyes on her, he dubs her an “absolute cracker”. Is Enid about to enjoy a make-over?

Bailey-Bond’s vision is wildly cinematic (pr handout)
Bailey-Bond’s vision is wildly cinematic (pr handout)

The very best thing about Censor is its colourful ending, which crackles with energy and confronts us with the truth that ideal scenarios, and horrific realities, can go hand in hand. Having established an aesthetic that feels hemmed-in and deliberately made-for-TV, Bailey-Bond lets loose with a vision that’s wildly cinematic. We experience a surge of relief, seconds before wondering if we’re sick sick sick. Basically, instead of offering a dry dissection of the role violence plays in entertainment, the film triggers a gut reaction.

Algar’s performance is perfectly paced and, though she looks like several other brilliant actresses (including Samantha Morton and Tuppence Middleton) she has a one-of-a-kind presence. Indie movies like this one aren’t out to make a killing, but consider me slain.

84mins cert 15; In cinemas

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