Censor is a horror film about a film censor called Enid whose sister has been missing for several years. After her parents decide to accept that they’ll never see their younger daughter again, Enid is asked to judge a film that feels eerily similar to events in her past.
Funnily enough, there’s something eerily familiar about Censor itself. It’s the feature debut of a Female British director (Prano Bailey-Bond) set in England that happens to be a horror film. Fans of the recent film Saint Maud will also see this comparison. Those same fans may either be excited or annoyed to hear that Censor is a much stronger film than Saint Maud, though it can’t be denied that it’s a really good sign that studios are more willing to let newbie directors share their creative vision. Hopefully this will lead to even more fantastic and original films to come.
What’s also familiar in Censor is Michael Smiley being in a film with a dark story. If Smiley appears in a movie, it’s almost certainly not going to be for the children.
Censor is set in the 1980s, 1985 to be exact. This is something that may cause several readers eyes to roll as there has been a veritable swarm of 80s nostalgia films and shows over the past few years. Some even seem to just be set in that decade for the sake of it. Joker, for instance, only really did it to show further nods to its inspiration The King Of Comedy.
Censor however revels in its setting and wouldn’t be the same if it had been made contemporary. The film is set against the backdrop of an epidemic of violence in movies and in real life in London. Everyone is sharing these films from rental houses giving out VHS tapes. This kind of prudish attitude to cinema wouldn’t seem as believable in a more modern setting with directors like Quentin Tarantino and Lars Von Trier being allowed to make whatever they really want to happen in their films.
What’s more is that a lot of the scenes in Censor are filmed as they would have been in the 1980s, although this attention to detail isn’t exclusive to these particular scenes. Every scene is beautifully shot and lit, making every location pop or making your body shudder as the camera forces you to enter. Added to that a haunting and deep soundtrack with stellar performances from all members of the cast and you’ve got what could be one of the most atmospheric films of the year.
This new horror is as tightly paced as you can get with a brisk but fulfilling eighty minute run time. Moreover, none of that time is wasted and it doesn’t feel like anything else was needed.
Censor is a cult classic British Horror in the making. With only one jump scare, this film is a grand achievement of atmosphere and tension with a little bit of great character building to boot. It’s very much worth your time and you won’t even need to give much up for it.
Censor will be released on August 20th 2021.