Of all the horror films that came out last year, Censor was perhaps the most striking. Prano Bailey-Bond’s film has been given an unbelievable Blu-ray release from Second Sight, making an already must-buy film an absolute essential purchase.
Enid (Niamh Algar) spends her days meticulously watching and assessing gruesomely violent and disturbing movies, taking her work as a film censor very seriously. She holds a strong sense of responsibility in protecting audiences from extreme content, subconsciously driven by the guilt she holds from a disturbing childhood trauma. When a troubling film lands on her desk, Enid finds herself embroiled in the story and slowly starts to uncover some of her lost memories that seem strangely similar to the film.
Prano Bailey-Bond’s confidence exudes through the screen in her feature debut. She has this vision of a story, and instead of guiding us by the hand through each moment and letting us know what is going on. She, instead, expects us to pick up on it and go with the flow throughout her horrifying vision. Add to this how clever Censor is; we are never truly sure if what we are seeing is actually happening in the manner that we are seeing it. As Enid becomes an unreliable protagonist, Bailey-Bond lets us try and figure out what we think is going on before battering us with a great finale.
What hits home so well with Censor is how perfectly it mirrors the paranoia in the 80s. What is happening to Enid is the exact reason why the Video Nasty law came into place. People become too entrenched in what they see and decide to do something about it. Though that is not all, as there is also an interesting line through the film that has the audience wondering, who, if anyone, is looking after all the Compliance Officers at the organisation?
They are seeing some gruesome content daily and seemingly have no safety net for when it gets too much for them. The only comparison to this is the social media moderators who have to sweep in and catch real-life violent videos before it gets to the general public.
It would be remiss if Niamh Algar’s performance weren’t mentioned here. She does some fantastic work here with the transformation of her character from the opening scene to that final one is so stark. Gone is the clinical Enid and in her place is someone who has been fully warped mentally into a world of fantasy. However, Algar always has a firm grasp of Enid with her dive into madness, never feeling false, and it is a desperate grieving performance that stays with you.
Sound design that Barberian Sound Studio would applaud to helps elevate the film into something unforgettable. Add to this wonderful choice from the director of photography Annika Summerson to help punctuate those key moments, and we not only have a unique horror but a subtle and stylish one.
• Brand 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
As you can see, there is a giant amount of special features to get through, which is always a joy; this is as definitive as a release as you will get for a film like Censor, and Second-Sight have not disappointed.
The first of the three commentaries is the more generic one, but still a whole lot of fun. Bailey-Bond goes into depth about the film and her overall love of the horror genre. The second one is the more technical of the commentaries, with it there being a lot more in-depth material on the processes of making specific scenes. A great little companion piece to Censor is Bailey-Bond’s short Nasty (I would suggest watching it first as a lovely little warm-up to the main feature).
Surprisingly and that is said in the most welcome of ways, is the fact that the interviews are not just 5-minute talking heads that you would usually find in a disc to help flesh it out. Here we get interviews with all of them going over 10 minutes and getting well past 20. They are all great to watch to help you understand some of the decisions made in the film, and honestly, it is nice to see editors , director of photography, and composers get some time to talk about the movie they worked on.
There are two standouts as extras; though, the David Gregory documentary Ban the Sadist Videos is as much of a deep-dive into the era as you will find. The second is the video conversation with Prano Bailey-Bond and BBFC Compliance Officer David Hyman. For those who want to know what it is actually like to be a Compliance Officer and what the BBFC do now, it is a fascinating 40 minutes.
Overall, it is a gleeful joy to have such a set as this for Censor, it is a film that deserves it, and you would be hard-pressed to see a better one out there for a film so recently released. An essential purchase.
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