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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Review: Censor

Director: Prano Bailey-Bond

Screenplay: Prano Bailey-Bond and Anthony Fletcher

Year: 2021

Enid works for a company dedicated to censoring films. One of her assignments is an oddly familiar video that leads her to relive the mystery of her sister's disappearance when they were just little girls. Determined to find answers, Enid embarks on a quest that blurs the line between fact and fiction.

Is horror movies bad for your emotional health? This is the question that many people ask themselves when they see the level of violence that usually accompanies these films and how sadistic and realistic it can be. After working for several years as a horror film critic and consuming several of these films per week, I feel qualified to answer this question. Except for the occasional thought related to “Final Destination 2” when someone cuts me off in traffic or when a notorious villain comes to mind when someone does something that irritates me, I don't think the constant exposure to horror movies is affecting me, right?

“Censor,” marking Prano Bailey-Bond's impressive feature film debut, does not delve into mainstream horror cinema but instead focuses on nasty and snuff videos. The film unfolds as a character study where we follow Enid (Niamh Algar; “Raised by Wolves”) from one extreme to the other. When we meet the protagonist, her personality highlights how professional, focused, and in control she is. However, as the plot unfolds, all this is gradually tested.

The catalyst that starts her descent into madness is a film by a director whose previous work has already been censored for its extremely crude content, but which in this case also evokes memories of her childhood and the disappearance of her sister. Since Enid sees this movie, her behavior becomes increasingly erratic, and she begins to suffer from anxiety and hallucinations. Throughout its duration, we follow an unreliable narrator, so it is difficult to separate what is real from what is fantasy, and the plot develops in the same confusing way and without much context, where the viewer has to arrange the pieces of the puzzle. 

This same interest in taking this distorted perspective also works against the film, opening some holes and problems in its development. Prano Bailey-Bond and Anthony Fletcher's screenplay often presents contextless situations or that lead nowhere that can be too confusing or meaningless. There are also several style jumps that I never understood the purpose of.

"Censor" is not a movie for everyone, as it opts more for an artistic and psychological style rather than pure horror. At its core, it's a slow-burn character study, which, if its plot doesn't catch you, can get boring. However, for those like me who are caught by its mystery, the plot offers an intriguing progression to the enigmatic ending.

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