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The Adjuster

Censor-movie-review-niamh-algar
Sundance Institute

MOVIE REVIEW
Censor (2021)

The more inspired expository stuff from director-co-writer Prano Bailey-Bond’s ode to 1980s horror, “Censor,” have a sense of humor about them. The title sequence is like the gory companion to the kissing reel from “Cinema Paradiso”: a montage assembled from clips supposedly excised due to censorship. It’s almost put together on a dare to see if anything will survive the notoriously prudish B.B.F.C. There’s also a bit of deadpan comedy in the workaday life of the film’s heroine, Enid (Niamh Algar), as she and colleagues matter-of-factly describe in minute detail the unpleasantries they witness as film censors, presumably in 1980s England.

Less fun is the actual plot: Blamed for copycat murders inspired by a film passed on her watch, Enid becomes withdrawn and obsessed with the canon of director Frederick North (Adrian Schiller). Still guilt-ridden over possible culpability in her sister’s disappearance during their formative years and permanently stuck in the denial stage of the grieving process, the highly suggestible Enid apparently invents false memories based on North’s films and comes to believe he holds the key to solving the case of her missing sibling.

The film’s recreation of VHS horror aesthetics is amusing; not so much its retread of tropes of unreliable narrator and pop psychology in mastering childhood trauma. The bit feels like a cursory exercise, for lacking the cheekiness of over-the-top bloodshed and not offering any insight on the style or the genre.

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