Sundance Review: Censor
Sundance's midnight section debuted last night with an ode to 80's schlock horror with Censor. Censor follows Enid, a film censor who had a traumatic life event when she was a child that she doesn’t have a clear memory of. One day at work she comes upon a film that closely seems to mirror her past, so she does some investigating to find out if this filmmaker has the key to her memories.
Censor, which is set in the 1980’s, is a love letter to trashy horror films of that era. It is both stylish and very cold, just like its protagonist. It keeps you at arm's length and leaves you almost unsure of what your opinion is of the movie until the very end. Luckily for me, the ending made everything that came before mostly worth how subdued it was.
For a debut film, writer-director Prano Bailey-Bond is incredibly self-assured but perhaps plays it a little too safe throughout. She plays her cards very close to the chest which unfortunately takes away some of the tension because the viewer isn't quite as invested as they would be had a few more risks been taken. For having such a short runtime, the film did manage to feel a bit slow in taking its time, but it all feels very deliberate and composed...again just like its protagonist. Niamh Algar carries the film on her shoulders and gives a compelling performance, but since the film keeps us at a distance it's hard to care about her too much. Still, the ending was quite effective and brought my score up just a bit.