The rise of the video nasty created a moral panic across the UK in the early 1980s. These low-budget films were characterised by their violent and bloody content. However, due to a loophole in the law, they escaped the ever-vigilant gaze of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). After a public outcry, this omission was rectified with the overly strict Video Recording Act of 1984. This is the backdrop to Prano Bailey-Bond’s new film, Censor.
Enid (Niamh Algar) is a film censor who takes her job very, very seriously. As the last line of defence against this moral corruption, she meticulously studies every scene on every reel. When she’s assigned to review one of the notorious Frederick North’s films, it seems eerily familiar; triggering feelings of guilt about her inability to remember events surrounding the disappearance of her sister. Haunted by fractured memories, she’s determined to discover the truth.
Censor is a beautifully crafted and impressively realised tribute to video nasties. Bailey-Bond constructs an almost nightmarish tableau. Transporting Enid into a world which blurs the lines between fact and fantasy; sending her tumbling headlong down a rabbit hole. Gradually descending into madness and becoming what she abhors. Censor is a stylish and brilliant psychological thriller where the shocks aren’t only on screen.
Censor screens at Sundance Film Festival.