"Top Quality Art House BritHorror"
One of HMC's Top Ten films of 2021, Prano Bailey-Bond's CENSOR gets the kind of luxury treatment that's become de rigeur from Second Sight Films, with two Blu-ray discs, a book and art cards, all housed in a rigid slipcase.
We're in Britain in the 1980s at the height of Video Nasty mania. Enid (Niamh Algar) works as a film censor where her job is to watch and assess gruesome and violent material, or at least those are the only kinds of films we ever see her watching. She, along with a co-assessor, then recommends if the film should be banned ('rejected') or released with cuts. She frequently finds the material difficult to watch, as do some (but not all) of her colleagues.
As well as a job she often finds hard to stomach, Enid has other problems. There's the suggestion she's responsible for the disappearance of her sister Nina in the woods many years ago. Enid's parents are convinced Nina is dead and have a death certificate drawn up to help everyone move on. But Enid isn't convinced and her job, her desire to find her sister, and her faltering grip on reality all combine to cause her to spiral into madness.
At least that's what I took away from CENSOR, that and the idea that sometimes those who want to take on the job of film censor job may well be the least suited to it. Director and co-writer Prano Bailey-Bond has fun with coloured lighting and altering aspect ratios to emphasise Enid's disorientation and Niamh Algar does a fine job in the lead role, ably assisted by a cast that includes a number of familiar faces from British television.
Extras on Second Sight's two disc set kick off with three commentary tracks - Bailey-Bond and Kim Newman (one of the executive producers of CENSOR) on the first, Bailey-Bond and other members of the crew on the second, and finally Kat Ellinger, Lindsay Hallam and Miranda Corcoran on the third. Needless to say the first two are more concerned with the nuts and bolts of the films genesis and shooting while the third offers an academic analysis of the film.
Disc one also includes a 20 minute making of as well as Bailey-Bond's 15 minute short film 'Nasty' which features some familiar footage and a familiar forest location. My Nasty Memories is 28 minutes with the always cheerful David Gregory of Severin Films who gives an accurate, entertaining and nostalgic (for those of us who were there) account of Britain in the 1980s and the video nasty phenomenon. Finally, you get both parts of Blue Underground's 'Ban the Sadist Videos!' documentary which runs to about 100 minutes in total.
Disc two offers a stack of interviews, including Prano Bailey Bond (30 minutes), Niamh Algar (22 minutes), co-writer Anthony Fletcher (12 minutes), DP Annika Summerson (18 minutes), editor Mark Towns (13 minutes) and composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch (11 minutes). Alexandra Heller-Nicholas offers a 21 minute critical appraisal and there's a 14 minute post-screening Q&A. You also get a fascinating 40 minute conversation between Bailey-Bond and David Hyman who is one of the BBFC's 'Compliance Officers' - the modern term for what in the old days would have been 'censor' and the whole package is rounded off with a couple of minutes of deleted scenes.
Prano Bailey-Bond's CENSOR is out from Second Sight Films in a limited edition two disc set with book, art cards and slipcase on Monday 31st January 2022