Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Prano Bailey-Bond Visits Britain’s Video Nasty Era in Debut ‘Censor’

Cinema | June 7th, 2021

by Greg Carlson

gregcarlson1@gmail.com

10 June 2021

Horror hounds and those who -- like me -- are attracted to movies about movies will appreciate “Censor,” an intriguing but uneven period piece. The feature debut of director and co-writer Prano Bailey-Bond, the film is set initially within the drab offices of the group of professionals responsible for assigning film ratings during the 1980s “video nasty” phenomenon in Great Britain. Despite the potential to showcase outrageous practical effects and the onscreen depiction of blunt-force trauma and tool-assisted mayhem in tribute to artifacts like “The Driller Killer” and “I Spit on Your Grave,” Bailey-Bond demonstrates a greater interest in the psychological dimensions of her protagonist’s crucible.

Niamh Algar plays buttoned-up Enid Baines, a smart and thoughtful censor who takes seriously the work of determining what violence and gore might be left in place before any given movie to which she has been assigned can be “passed” and made legally available for public consumption. Beyond the initial act, Bailey-Bond does not explore the British Board of Film Censors (later British Board of Film Classification) and the evolution of low-budget, independent horror and exploitation moviemaking that triggered concern in the first place. “Censor” nods to the video rental store culture of the era but does not indulge it or embrace it.

Instead, the tantalizing possibility of a direct personal connection to Enid -- she starts to wonder whether a performer in a sadistic film under review could be her missing sister -- aligns the movie with tropes concerning the main character’s grip on reality. Enid’s willingness to go down that rabbit hole is reminiscent in a certain way of Harry Caul in “The Conversation.” “Censor” is nowhere near as good or as satisfying as Coppola’s beloved film, but both movies feast on personal second-guessing, paranoia, and the possibility of real danger. They also share an affection for analog technology and the power of interpreting and/or misinterpreting recordings of what we think we see and hear.

Enid might be akin to a Final Girl as she navigates her personal downward spiral and descends deep into the mystery of the film within the film (called “Don’t Go in the Church” with spot-on video nasty authenticity). And Bailey-Bond handles with confidence a number of solid scenes, including a creepy encounter with an odious and sleazy producer played with relish by Michael Smiley. Also effective is the tension between Enid and her grieving parents. The painful decision to get on with their lives by finally taking the step to have their long-departed child declared legally dead is a sobering reality check for the skeptical and frustrated Enid.

There is enough dark humor in “Censor” to avoid arguments that the filmmaker is taking it all too seriously, but Bailey-Bond carefully modulates the tone to achieve her desired outcome, which has led some to complain that there isn’t enough splatter to capitalize on the premise. Had “Censor” managed both Enid’s personal nightmare and wrestled more deliberately with some of the moral questions posed by the title, viewers might have been inclined to initiate conversations about the horror genre’s traditions of transgression.

_________________________

“Censor” will be in theaters starting June 11 and on-demand beginning June 18. 

Recently in:

Growing Together Opens New GardenBy Annie Prafckehttps://www.facebook.com/annie.prafcke20 May 2021On April 15th, Growing Together held a groundbreaking for the opening of its newest gardens at Gethsemane Cathedral. The space, which…

By Michael M. Millermichael.miller@ndsu.edu17 June 2021The Lehr Tabernacle near Lehr, N.D., celebrates its 100th Centennial with events on June 18-20, 2021. The Tabernacle, also known as Prairie Bible Camp, was featured in an…

2021 Summer Calendar Toby KeithMay 21, 7pmBismarck Event Center, 315 SOUTH 5TH STREET BISMARCKTickets $25-$175, pre-party starts at 5pm.Heart and Soul May 22, 9pmThe Aquarium, 226 N BroadwayR & B, Smooth Jazz, Funk, Neo-Soul and…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021Our opinion: Let’s work together instead of against each other.Think of where we are now in comparison to last year. Think of what we’ve learned since and how this is affecting our…

Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.com29 July 2021This Is About the Religious-Rich-QAnon-White Supremacist-Trumplican CultThere are hundreds of thousands of cults in countries and societies around the world that have played or are playing…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021With Grand Forks being a hop skip and a cruise away from Fargo-Moorhead, our neighbors to the north have some great dining options. Whether you’re planning on spending a weekend or…

Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.com15 July 2021“We have a guy that's been involved with the show for many years as a landlord and knew what it was like in the heydays. So he knows where he wants to take it.” says WE Fest General…

by Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.com24 June 2021Mariem Perez Riera’s “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It” Stops in Theaters Before Date with “American Masters”On the heels of criticism for defending…

Alicia Underlee Nelson  alicia@hpr1.comDowntown scored a new mural from The Greetings Tour, a project that aims to create a mural in the style of…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Theresa L. Goodrichsubmit@hpr1.comIt was day ten of our epic southwest road trip and we’d made it to Arizona. After camping in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico, we were exhausted, but fortunately our night in…

by Annie Prafckesubmit@hpr1.com17 June 2021On June 19th, from 12pm to 7pm, nonprofit Faith4Hope Scholarship Fund is hosting their first ever Juneteenth Freedom Celebration at Lindenwood Park in Fargo. It is free and open to the…