Censor (2021) ** – Seen at the Cinema

From video nasty to video laughty in one easy move. I was laughing out loud when the picture started to get nasty and I doubt this was the intention of director Prano Bailey Bond, making her movie debut. The movie is set in the uber-drab 1980s, where color was apparently in short supply, and all the characters inhabited offices or houses that appeared to belong to the black-and-white era.  The notion that iconic characters like Boy George, Madonna and Princess Diana might have been around at the same time is largely ignored in the bid to make every character flat and conformist.

In fairness, working in the British film censorship department was hardly likely to provide a bundle of laughs. As well as being as being as buttoned-down as they come, Enid (Niamh Algar) is also riddled with guilt since she was in charge of her younger sister when she went missing two decades previously. A chunk of the film is almost a spoof of The Office, with characters hidebound by officialdom.

And there are a few excellent set pieces. As with The Night House, the scenes that deal with grief, Enid’s parents finally coming to terms with their daughter’s disappearance, are very well done. The dialogue among the various censors, judging whether to reject movies or heavily edit them, rings very true and there is a terrific scene involving film-making where the director is kept off-camera while an actress is literally standing in the spotlight.

Tight-lipped Enid becomes obsessed with the idea that her sister is not only alive but actually an actress in a video nasty.  To that end, she tracks down smarmy producer Doug Smart (Michael Smiley). As I said, it may have been the director’s intention that Smart is killed by ironically managing to have an award statuette rammed down his throat, but I’m not so sure and at that point I began to lose faith in the picture. It goes on to a perfectly bonkers climax which had me in stitches, again not entirely a recommendation.