Is Censor the Future of Giallo Horror?

Is Censor the Future of Giallo Horror?
Niamh Algar in Censor (Image: Magnet Releasing)

Censor is a 2021 Giallo film written and directed by Prano-Bailey Bond, and co-written with Anthony Fletcher. The story follows Enid Baines (Niamh Algar), a woman who works at the British film censor board. She is part of a team that decides which movies make it into theatres and which films will never see the light of day. Although at work, she’s well-liked and seen as a hard worker, outside of work, she is haunted by her younger sister’s disappearance.

Her parents want to move on, but Enid refuses to let go. Then, one day while looking at a gory slasher snuff film, Enid thinks she sees her sister in the movie. This sets her on a course of self-destruction as she aims to unravel the truth behind her sister’s disappearance.

Censor centres around the inner workings of Enid’s mind instead of focusing on the terrors of the real world. Bailey-Bond and Fletcher want to evoke unease and tension. However, it often gets overshadowed by its hesitancy to tell the audience the truth. Not sure why as early on it’s easy to predict where the story is going. Further exploring how obsession as a trauma response can lead to disastrous results would have been a better use of the movie’s time instead of trying to be scary.

Despite the issues, the Giallo influence is palpable and used to great effect. Censor is a thriller/mystery with horror elements that expertly uses colour and a particular shooting style to blend tense atmosphere and suspense. The Cinematography by Annika Summerson and Bailey-Prano’s direction is Argentoesque and make it very obvious.

The pinks, blues, and purples are not the usual colours used to create tension, but it works here. There’s a strong sense of claustrophobia here. No matter Enid is in the film, the super-tight shots leave no room for her to move, so the audience is forced into a state of discomfort watching this woman’s death spiral. The kill scenes are gory as hell and also filmed within tight angles, so you see everything up close and personal — in all its bloody glory.

Is Censor the future of Giallo cinema? Well, it’s hard to say as Giallo is one of those timeless sub-genres that doesn’t often see drastic change — just bigger budgets. A better question is whether modern directors and storytellers will utilise the style enough to enhance quality content? And that is what Censor does well. Read Germain Lussier’s in-depth Sundance 2021 review of Censor here.

The film is currently in theatres and will be available on VOD June 18.