What is the sign of a great film? What about that film gets you pumped and excited awaiting its release? Is it the actors who fill out the cast? Is it the director who captains the ship? Could it be the cinematographer who frames every shot (I am one of those people…which there are probably very few)? Or could it be the studio who put the project together? But sometimes you hear a film is debuting at a certain festival…and that gets you all kinds of jazzed? The final example of my unnecessarily long list is the kicker for this new British horror flick, Censor.
Why is this little horror film getting so much buzz coming out of Sundance? This one is packing plenty of reasons to be excited. First and foremost for myself, I was excited to see Niamh Algar, the leading actor of the film, bring to the project. Algar has been filling out her resume as of late as she has led the Ridley Scott-produced and HBO Max released sci-fi series, Raised by Wolves, she has joined the ensemble of Guy Ritchie’s latest, Wrath of Man, but most importantly (to me) she stole the show in the small indie dramedy, The Last Right. Algar packs plenty of charisma and charm into her work while also delivering the proper level of presence. In this film, she carries a classy and refined demeanor about her while rocking a sharp-looking librarian look. She plays a film censor who is one of the more stringent members of the staff. But Algar’s Enid has pain and loss in her past (a missing sister to be exact) which combined with the dark and twisted material she screens takes her onto a scary path…and what a ride it is for the audience.
Speaking of this journey, what do we experience here as audience members? There is plenty of mystery and thrills packed into Censor that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Enid goes on a well-crafter and acted descent throughout the film that takes her character to new…and tragically dark places. The drive to unearth the mystery of her sister’s fate takes her on a break from reality. As an audience, we are treated to the same break. What is real? What is Enid going through? What is really happening? These might not always be clearly in sight and things can get a bit muddled but the journey is certainly worth your time. Sharp editing and breath-taking photography makes this an engrossing and poignant experience. As well as being drawn into this expertly crafted film, Enid is sucked into the crazy world of the film she spends her days with. To tell you more details would deny you the pleasure of experiencing this wonderful film in the surprising and shocking manner that you should. All I can say is that this ending is an impeccably crafted fever dream that really pulls the style and themes of the film together while giving Enid a shocking end.
But how does all of this work so well? Prano Bailey-Bond…watch out for this name. Bailey-Bond is able to create such an engrossing world in her film through her ambitious and bold direction. There is a love for horror flicks injected in this film that adds layers to the proceedings. The tone is consistent and the atmosphere of the film is fully realized. Bailey-Bond is able to craft a fully realized atmosphere that is always delivering beauty and fear plus mounting tension. The grainy feel to the film builds a classic look that fits the story so well. The framing of every shot is so methodically rendered that this film really feels like art in motion. Bold…beautiful…suspenseful…moving. These are all perfect words to describe the world that Baily-Bond creates for us in this tale of loss, pain, and repression. Do yourself a favor and don’t deny yourself the opportunity to experience Censor.