Horror month is finally here (even though we did a dry run in August)! I know this is pretty much always the caveat for a purely horror driven month, but the genre is a very accurate illustration of where my mind is currently at. Anxious for no good reason (even though I’m solidly back on the meds) and unable to deal too heavily with reality. So bring on the comforting embrace of the macabre, the ridiculous and the blood splattered, I say.

Jill and I want to structure things just a tad however so you’ll notice our next handful of picks will have a psychological/feminist slant – shouldn’t everything?

We ring in the new month with this atmospheric little number, a special treat for us both as we had to actually pay to stream it this time.

Rude.

After viewing a strangely familiar video nasty, Enid, a film censor, sets out to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance, embarking on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality.

Film: Censor (2021)

*Spoilers*

Enid Baines (Niamh Algar) is a young woman working for the BBFC (British Board of Classification) during the height of the Video Nasty frenzy. The organisation classifies, recommends cuts to or outright bans violent content in movies and Enid – AKA “Little Miss Perfect” – is particularly thorough and committed to her work.

Staying late every night and combing video content to the point of obsession makes Enid a rather isolated figure, though a tragic back story may be the root cause. During a particularly bleak dinner with her parents we learn her sister Nina has been missing since they were children – and has just been declared dead. Shaken by the receipt of an official death certificate, Enid is unwilling to accept that Nina is gone and continues to believe she might still be out there somewhere.

While Enid blames herself for Nina’s disappearance – she grapples with the memory of what really happened that day. Are the few flashbacks she does have true or pure fiction?

She continues with her work but is rocked when a horrific murder is committed and the media link the actions of the “Amnesiac Killer”, the man who can’t remember the event, to a violent film called Deranged. A title passed by Enid and her colleague Sanderson (Nicholas Burns). Looking for someone to blame, the papers are relentless in their pursuit of Enid and she’s inundated by angry phone calls from the public.

But the show must go on. At work she meets Doug Smart (the wonderful Michael Smiley), a smarmy producer who tells Enid that veteran horror director Frederick North has personally requested that she screen one of his films – “Don’t Go in the Church”. When she sits down to study the film, she’s shocked to discover that it parallels the situation with Nina perfectly.

This sends our girl down a Frederick North rabbit-hole as she gets hold of some of his more extreme work and fixates on an actress who works with him regularly – Alice Lee (Sophia La Porta). A striking beauty with Nina’s signature red hair, Enid is convinced Alice is her grown up little sister, kidnapped by North as a child. And so she sets out to unravel the truth – with devastating results.

Will Enid bring Nina home to her parents once and for all? Will her memory of what happened to her sister ever become clear? All I will say to that is expect a tense ride as the lines of reality and the truth blur together like a motherfucker.

Thoughts

I love the aesthetic of this movie. It boasts an incredibly satisfying colour palette, wonderful symmetry and framing. And I really like Enid, even though there’s a very obvious darkness to her, an unspoken something bubbling beneath the prim exterior. Hence perhaps her need to protect the public from the violence of those Video Nasties. It’s her opportunity to repent, right? This makes her very interesting and layered – and Niamh Algar plays her perfectly.

I’m always going to be intrigued by anything set within the film industry, even on the fringes, and this reminds me in some ways of one of my favourite books. There’s a mystique surrounding the director Frederick North and his work – and it’s really easy to get caught up in Enid’s amateur sleuthing. Even though it’s spooky and tragic – and there’s a lot of suspicion surrounding her – I really wanted her to get the answers she was looking for. I’d also be well up for being her partner.

Otherwise, the idea of censorship and what passes the mustard or doesn’t is pretty intriguing in itself. Even though I thought a few times how great the job would be, I’ve changed my mind now. I’d crack like an ice cube on a Summer’s day after about a week and it would probably take the joy out of the genre I love so much.

Anyway, I rate this one and don’t have much criticism for it. Maybe it could have gone darker. Overall it’s gorgeous, and right up my street.

MY RATING: 4/5


What are Jill’s thoughts on this one? Would she rate it highly or ban it outright? Find out here.

6 thoughts on “Censor, or: Got wood(s)

  1. I liked it and hated it, I liked that it took place during the video nasty era, I liked the jump scare, I liked the unraveling of Enid…but the ending sucked. I don’t like up for interpretation endings, I’m more content with cut and dry. Was she dead, was everyone dead ?? Did she murder “Alice” and bring the body to her parents. I give it a 3 of 5.

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