Any film fan of a certain age growing up in the mid-1980s in the UK will know of the video nasties debate that raged over a number of years, with VHS tapes being the scapegoat for all manner of crimes which led to ridiculous censorship of films, especially horror and action movies.
Censor is set in these times with Enid Blines who is a censor working for the British Board of Film Censors and whose job it is to cut out anything she sees as being too violent for others to view. It’s a difficult job that is not helped after her latest viewing of a film called Don’t Go In The Church has a disturbingly familiar storyline, she attempts to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance and embarks on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality.
This is just as much a film about a person with a traumatised past which is affecting her mind as much as a look at the craziness of that era. It becomes increasingly blurred for her to separate fantasy and reality as she tries to solve the disappearance of her sister once and for all, despite the calls from her parents to let it go.
A brilliant performance from Niamh Algar as Enid really lifts the film from what could have been a cheesy exploration of the nasties era. Michael Smiley, who plays smarmy and creepy producer Doug Smart is also excellent as is the recreation of that era. The film has a very uneasy feel throughout, and director Prano Bailey-Bond keeps the tension building nicely, even if the final section is a little frustrating as well as ambiguous.
While the film does show how ludicrous the whole situation was, hyped up by a frenzied tabloid media it does not really come to any conclusions and leaves it up to the viewer to decide.
The new Blu-ray special edition from Second Sight is a fabulous release. The picture quality has a very good filmic transfer, having the opening of the disc have a VHS quality is a nice touch, and the audio is excellent with a very enveloping sound stage. The extras are really comprehensive and include interviews with many of the cast and crew and a splendid documentary called Ban the Sadist Videos! Below is a full list.
- 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
- 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! Parts One and Two feature length documentary
- English subtitles for the hearing impaired
Limited Edition Contents
- Rigid slipcase with new artwork by James Neal
- Soft cover book with new essays by Anna Bogutskaya, Kat Ellinger, Tim Murray, Alison Peirse and Hannah Strong plus production photos
- 6 collectors’ art cards
A disturbing but fascinating film that all horror fans should seek out.
FILM – 8 PICTURE – 9 AUDIO – 9 EXTRAS – 10