• Gareth Crook

Censor (2021) - 7/10

Censor’s have a tough time don’t they. Poor souls just looking to protect us viewers from nasty nasty nightmares. Enid (Niamh Alger) watches horror films for a living in smoky screening rooms whilst scribbling notes on an pad of the bits that need to go before being released to the public. She’s cautious and analytical, working in the height of the video nasty era. Violent VHS viewing is rampant and Enid is on a mission. It paints the 80s era comically but well, Thatcher on the tele, bad fashion, no one really in touch with their feelings. Enid’s life off screen is more traumatic than on. Her little sister is missing, has been for years since they were kids. Her parents want to give up and declare her dead. Enid was the last person to see her and is not ready. She appears strong, but is slowly unravelling, losing focus between her two worlds, as she takes the blame for troubling events in both. She’s alone, without constructive support from her parents or colleagues, including Sanderson (Nicolas Burns, who’ll always be Nathan Barley to me). He prefers a lighter touch, adding more pressure to the fragile Enid. When she encounters a film that’s a little too close to home, the wheels come off. The score by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch is full of haunting atmospherics that match and heighten the dull muted colours and grimly utilitarian world. It’s genuinely creepy. The sets, the lighting, wardrobe, cast, dialogue. It’s all slow and somewhat detached, but builds carefully. There’s lots of familiar faces in the supporting cast, but Alger is the driving force as investigator, crusader and victim. It’s stylish, but never loses sight of its core. Like a Lynch film… but less confusing. Based on a short also directed by Prano Bailey-Bond it does pad a little towards the final scenes, but at a 80 minutes pitches just about right.

7/10