Prano Bailey-Bond, Anthony Fletcher
First showing of Sundance Midnight comes from director Prano Bailey-Bond starring Niamh Algar as Enid, a censor in the 80’s during the time of U.K. hyper-violent horror films. After screening a film that feels eerily familiar to a tragedy that took place when she was young, Enid is sent on a wild trippy journey to find who made the film and what connection there is between the film and her reality.
What made me really impressed with this movie is the breakout performance from Niamh Algar. She morrors incredible lead female performances such as Toni Collette in ‘Hereditary‘ or Florence Pugh in ‘Midsommer‘. The film hinges on her performance and she knocked it out of the park.
Supporting characters like her parents (played by Andrew Havill and Clare Holman) while not in the story a lot are a large part of the horror you witness through Enid’s traumatic past. There are sequences that are surreal, you can’t tell where fact and fiction is blending into themselves as the film progresses and that also helped ratchet up the tension.
I really enjoy films that can subvert genre tropes and ‘Censor’ is able to do so in a few ways. In its main protagonists journey, and in the traditional jump scare approach. One scene in particular I know would’ve garnered many gasps and shrieks from a theater audience that admittedly is what is missing in ‘Censor’.
Horror films should be experienced in a group rather than individually and I wish that had been the case here. But that doesn’t take away from it’s quality in storytelling and in how I felt cautiously turning on my lights as I walked through the house at midnight terrified. I can’t wait to see this with fellow horror fans to get their thoughts as well.
Overall, ‘Censor’ is likely going to be the strongest midnight film of the festival, but in a couple days I may eat those words. With a strong performance from Niamh Algar and a surreal and engaging directing by Prano Bailey-Bond, I’d check it out once it comes out this year.