In the early ’80s, a loophole in film classification laws allowed a series of so-called “video nasties” — think low-budget horror and exploitation offerings like “Blood Feast” and “The Burning” — to hit the market without any sort of regulation. The response to these films was swift and expected: public panic, supposed moral outrage, and eventually heightened censorship and regulation. Such is the world of “Censor,” a gory and clever horror feature about, well, horror films. Sort of.
Per the film’s official synopsis: “Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past.”
“Censor” stars Niamh Algar as the censor of the title, Enid, and was directed by Prano Bailey-Bond in her feature debut (she also wrote the film alongside Anthony Fletcher). The film debuted at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where IndieWire’s Eric Kohn called it “a disturbing debut” steeped in ’80s horror.
In his review, Kohn wrote: “The movie unfolds with elegant atmospheric dread, as Enid contends with a brutal, male-dominated work environment in which her opinions rarely hold weight. When a lunatic murders his family in a manner based off one of the movies she was forced with cutting down, the world turns against her. … That’s when she sees a particularly unnerving exploitation movie called ‘Don’t Go in the Church,’ with an opening slasher bit featuring an actress that bears an unmistakable resemblance to Enid’s missing sibling. At least, that’s what Enid thinks, as she journeys down a rabbit hole of theories and detective work that may or may not hold together.”
Magnet Releasing will release “Censor” in theaters on June 11, with a VOD rollout to follow on June 18. Check out the first U.S. trailer and poster for the film, available exclusively on IndieWire, below.