A captivating journey into the early 80s moral panic of the “video nasty”, Prano Bailey-Bond’s audaciously meta retro-horror conjures the nightmare visions of David Lynch and Lucio Fulci.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
In her bold, wildly accomplished debut feature, Welsh filmmaker Prano Bailey-Bond re-imagines the moral hysteria of the Thatcherite “video nasty” era as a deliciously meta, purposefully disturbing piece of psychological-horror.
It’s the early 80s, and Enid (Niamh Algar) and her team of film censors spend their hours in dingy screening rooms, coolly scribbling down notes and assessing a litany of gut-churners before releasing them into the public. When a grisly murder occurs, supposedly mimicking a horror film that has slipped through their scissors, Enid finds herself at the centre of an escalating media frenzy and questioning her role as a moral guardian. Meanwhile, repressed trauma from her past resurfaces, threatening to loosen her already-slippery grip on reality.
Awash in throbbing, seductive neon hues, Censor is a retro genre aesthete’s dream, steeped in attentive period detail and atmosphere (lurid fake film titles, surreptitiously acquired, behind-the-counter VHS rentals). As with its closest sensory cousins, Videodrome and Berberian Sound Studio, this is sharply stylised film-within-a-film phantasmagoria of the highest order, with Algar’s committed, unusually affecting performance grounding each heady detour into blood-spattered surrealism with empathetic force. — Aaron Yap
“This thrilling, dizzying debut... is a nostalgic treat for anyone old enough to remember the infamous ‘video nasties’ scare of the early 80s. Yet beneath the retro surface lies a more universal tale about the power of horror to confront our deepest fears – a timeless celebration of the liberating nature of the dark side.” — Mark Kermode, The Guardian
Declaration of Interest
The staff and trustees of NZIFF congratulate Incredibly Strange programmer Ant Timpson on his involvement in this film as Executive Producer.