Embrace unreality as Prano Bailey-Bond’s macabre and gorgeous debut Censor finally arrives. Film censor Enid (Niamh Algar) takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching gore-filled decapitations and eye gougings. Her sense of duty is amplified by guilt. She’s unable to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. The tale tangles considerably as Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive. The film echoes her hazy childhood memories, confusing fiction and reality. Enid must unravel how this eerie work might be connected to her past.
What was initially marketed as a cozy mystery thriller gets flipped on its own head in the most murky, unforgiving way. Viewers get a glimpse into the insanity of a mind breaking under the weight of unresolved guilt.
Full disclosure: this is probably my favorite of the summer, I don’t care that its only June. I went back and forth quite a few times on how I wanted to review Censor. Rather than ramble on and on about every intricate little thing I love about this film- because I totally could- I worry revealing more than the bare bones will ruin the experience for first time viewers. Censor is one of those films where it’s best to go in with as few expectations as possible. Just enjoy the ride, even when that ride focuses on the dreariest of themes.
Niamh Algar is an absolute dream that deserves the heaviest of praises. She’s become an instant auto watch actress for me. She shines as Enid, probably one of the best written characters I’ve seen on screen in a long time, eloquently displaying guilt, grief, trauma, turmoil and everything in between; she spares no bloody detail. Her flair (mixed with Bailey-Bond’s cinematic vision) makes for a wild, almost overwhelming experience.
The film starts off unsuspecting enough. Low key. Then, the bleakly logical Enid’s mental state takes a dramatic shift. Her mind become a contemporary jumble of interior thoughts and scattered memories that bleed into her exterior motivations and actions. It’s disorienting, as Enid quite literally loses the plot. Once you get a feel for what’s going on, the film is nothing short of delightful. Censor is a triumph of psychological fiction and simply unmissable.
WICKED RATING: 8.5/10
Director(s): Prano Bailey-Bond
Writer(s): Prano Bailey-Bond and Anthony Fletcher
Starring: Niamh Algar, Michael Smiley, Nicholas Burns, Vincent Franklin, Sophia La Porta and Adrian Schiller
Theatrical Release Date: June 11th, 2021
VOD Release Date: June 18th, 2021
Studio/Production Company: Timpson Films, Film 4, Silver Salt Films, Ffilm Cymru Wales , BFI Film Fund and Rook Films
Runtime: 84 minutes