Every time a new form of media arises, some people point out it has or will harm young people. In the ’50s, that bad reputation went to comic books, and these days violent video games are deemed harmful. In the ’80s, however, VHS videos were labelled as dangerous. Those videos, called “Video Nasty” or “Nasties”, are now the inspiration for another media form, film. One that was created by co-writer/director Prano Bailey-Bond. While the videos nasties and the unique story are the perfect starting point for a movie, it remains the question of whether you should censor this movie out of your life or not?
Will reality and fiction turn out to be the same?
You’ve probably seen those ‘age warnings’ every time you go to the cinema, and even in the ’80s, their warnings were already present. As a censor, Enid (Niamh Algar) has a lot of influence on that rating. Her workings days consist of watching horror films, gore, violence and horrific acts and then provide which scenes are too terrible to watch. Sadly, not only her work consists of horror but also her private life. When she was younger, her sister went missing, and decades later, she’s still traumatised by that.
While she’s seen almost every kind of horror movie, she didn’t see the next one coming at all. When viewing “Don’t Go into the Church”, another nasty, she re-lives her sister’s disappearance more vividly than ever before. The film seems to align with what she remembers of that tragic day. While watching this disturbing nasty, she uncovers more and more information about what could have happened that day. Will reality and fiction turn out to be the same, or is Enid just imagining it to find closure after all?
The stunning cast and creative crew come together in a great way
When watching Censor, you might not realise it because of the beautiful way the movie was created, but it’s Bailey-Bond full-length feature debut. The story is loosely based on her short film Nasty from 2015. While the narratives of Censor and Nasty are entirely different (A woman watching Nasties versus a young boy finding a family connection through many horror videos), they both involve nasty videos and uniqueness and lacks tons of cliches (which isn’t bad at all).
Instead of focussing on the harmful effects horror movies could have on society (especially during the Nasty area), she focuses on the human emotions and the characters trying to keep their lives afloat in a world full of death, horror and nasty scenery. Yes, more towards the end of the movie, it might all seem a bit over-the-top, and there’s the “they didn’t really know how this movie would” end vibe but overall, Censor is a very well-crafted movie.
This is mainly because of the stunning combination of the gripping score by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch (Rocks, Only You) and the authentic 35mm cinematography from Annika Summerson (Mogul Mowgli, Await Further Instructions). The flashy and neon lights create a sinister atmosphere that certainly draws you into the movie. By adding fast-moving close-ups to it, Bailey-Bond indeed manages to capture the 80s vibe beautifully.
What Censor also shows you is that we have a new leading lady of horror movies, and her name is Niamh Algar (Calm with Horses, The Last Right). She delivers an outstanding performance in this movie that excels on both emotional and physical levels. Her fellow cast members, including Michael Smiley (Free Fire, The Lobster) and Nicholas Burns (Emma, Hope Gap), are doing an excellent job as well. They’re providing this movie with balanced, emotional and not over the top performances.
A mesmerising debut
Yes, while the movie’s second half feels a bit all over the place and unhinged, the first part makes up for that. This is because Bailey-Bond creates a nerve-racking, gripping and claustrophobic feeling, the same Enid experiences, thanks to which the movie has you in its grip for most of it. If you add the old-fashion and gripping acting performance from Algar to this movie, as well as highly authentic sounds and the fitting cinematography, you know you overall got an extremely decent debut movie.
Censor is out now in U.K. cinemas
Rating: [ursr 3.5]