Her name is Enid, and she’s a film censor, the person who negotiates the bad language, graphic violence, drug use, and nudity of a film, deciding just how much can be kept in and retain an R rating, and which films will either need to be edited, or bumped up to NC-17 and so on. “I’ve salvaged the tug of war with the intestines. Kept in most of the screwdriver stuff. And I’ve only trimmed the tiniest bit off the end of the genitals, but some things should be left to the imagination.” I love her already.
Enid’s (Niamh Algar) profession is under scrutiny at the moment as a salacious murder is dominating headlines, apparently inspired by a face-eating scene in a movie that she and her partner signed off on. Censor is set in the early 80s, but our culture still hasn’t grown tired of blaming violent movies, music, and video games for all that ails us, and the uproar doesn’t feel dated at all.
One day, while screening yet another nasty from an unending pile, a scene feels eerily familiar. Enid’s little sister disappeared years ago, and as the only witness, Enid’s never been able to provide much detail. But this – ? This scene rings a distant bell, unearthing disturbing memories that haunt Enid well past the film’s end credits. It seems incredible, and her parents’ skepticism is dismissive, but Enid becomes obsessed with linking her sister’s fate to this old film. When she learns the director is filming a sequel, she stalks production, hoping to be reunited with her abducted sister. But the closer she gets, the more we blur the lines between fact and fiction.
Director Prano Bailey-Bond dissolves reality with such subtlety that we hardly notice the point of no return. When, exactly, did Enid cross the line, and is there any going back? This is a send-up to vintage horror that fans of the genre will recognize and appreciate. Algar gives a fulsome performances, worthy of not just a final girl but an actual, flesh and bones character with guilt and grief, guts and glory. Censor is bold and stylish, and once it goes meta, it gains a confidence that is hard to deny.