One thing most media set in the 80s seems to underestimate, is just how brown everything was. Brown sofas, brown clothes, brown walls. None of the neon lights we see in the fantastical versions of the 80s of recent years. Not in normal homes anyway. The excited nostalgia underestimates how politically tumultuous it was too. With the Satanic Panic, the blaming of violence on nasty films, the AIDs crisis and long strikes making it perhaps not the decade of dreams we have been led to believe.
Censor gives us a glimpse into a bleaker version of the 80s, with Enid (Naimh Algar) working for the BBFC making minute and precise cuts to video nasties. Trimming some and outright banning others, she sees her work as a service to the public, protecting children from unsuitable or damaging images.
One such film, not so different to the others, ‘Don't Go In The Church' awakens memories in Enid of her sister, Nina (Amelie Child-Villiers), who disappeared when they were children. She convinces herself that the man who made the film and the stars in it know what happened to her sister, and combined with her parents finally declaring Nina not just missing but dead, something breaks in Enid. Her command of reality begins to crumble, and her obsession with the film and those in it escalates to a violent and bloody conclusion.
Naimh Algar's performance as Enid is a fascinating one. Taking her from buttoned up to the neck to barely human the transition is smoothly realised, with certain mannerisms carrying through, reminding you of where she started. This is aided by Prano Bailey-Bond's confident direction. A keen understanding of the era, the look of the films and the politics surrounding them seep into the look and feel of everything on screen. Changes to aspect ratio aid feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia while suggesting that what we see may not be what is really happening.
This standard edition Blu-ray release from Second Sight has an impressively large collection of bonus features spread across two discs. Interviews, ‘making of's and short films give insight into not just the making of the film but also the solidity of Bailey-Bond's vision in her preparation for making Censor itself. Especially the short film Nasty which lands on similar subtexts.
It would be easy to misinterpret Censor, and perhaps land on it as critical of the video nasties it apes. However, one line suggests the true motive behind this story and it's absurdity. Criticisms of public funding cuts and increased poverty give clear indication of who the true villains of the 80s were. And that alone makes this superbly nonsensical story timeless.
- New audio commentary by Director and Co-Writer Prano Bailey-Bond and Executive Producer Kim Newman
- New audio commentary by Prano Bailey-Bond, Director of Photography Annika Summerson, Editor Mark Towns and Sound Designer Tim Harrison
- New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, Lindsay Hallam and Miranda Corcoran
- My Own Nasty: a new interview with Prano Bailey-Bond
- Penning a Nasty: a new interview with Co-Writer Anthony Fletcher
- The Censor: a new interview with Actor Niamh Algar
- Nasty Images: a new interview with Annika Summerson
- I'm Cutting It: a new interview with Mark Towns
- Nasty Sounds: a new interview with Composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch
- The Making of Censor featuring cast and crew interviews
- Nasty: a short film by Prano Bailey-Bond
- Deleted Scenes
- Enid's Gaze: Alexandra Heller-Nicholas on Censor
- Screening Q&A with Prano Bailey-Bond and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch hosted by Jed Shepherd
- Prano Bailey-Bond in conversation with BBFC Compliance Officer David Hyman
- My Nasty Memories by David Gregory
- Ban the Sadist Videos! Part One & Two feature length documentary
- English subtitles for the hearing impaired
Censor is set for its release on Standard Edition Blu-ray from Second Sight on 31 October