To anyone who dares spread the rumor that horror movies are responsible for the moral decay of society, here is a provocative feature for your consideration.
Set against England’s Video Nasty outrage of the mid-’80s, Censor takes us inside the head of Enid Baines (Niamh Algar), an efficient and organized member of the government agency in charge of rating violent and disturbing films of the day, like Driller Killer and Deranged.
Enid is quite good at her job but her personal life hasn’t recovered from the childhood trauma of losing her sister Nina in the woods, and she continues to harbor hopes that she will turn up one day.
When she’s assigned a Nasty called Don’t Go in the Church, something shifts in Enid’s memories as the movie seems to be a re-creation of the day her sister disappeared, a haunting mystery that was never solved, and the details of which she can’t remember.
Her parents want her to move on with her life and meet a nice fellah, but Enid is determined to track down the cult filmmaker who could be the source of everything that’s gone wrong in her life.
Welsh writer-director Prano Bailey-Bond has fashioned a deeply drawn character in Enid, and the performance by Algar just keeps getting richer, even as her world gets darker, infected by the barrage of torture and cruelty she witnesses on a daily basis.
Bailey-Bond does a first-rate job of establishing time and place, when England was under a media-fueled frenzy of lurid details from “hardcore” horror films dubbed “Video Nasties.”
Enid’s office, with its dark little viewing rooms, becomes equally lurid, as screams and chopping sounds fill the halls.
Job pressures take their toll on Enid, a thoroughly professional woman with a complicated, compartmentalized life. Like Cassandra Thomas in Promising Young Woman, she has answered a calling and takes pride in her work.
Unfortunately, Enid, an otherwise intelligent and perceptive woman, ignores the warning issued by more than one character, that being, “Evil is contagious.”
In my estimation, Censor is one of the best horror films of the year.