BARE BONES: CENSOR (2021)

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CENSOR (2021)

Film takes place in England during the 80s when graphic horror films-referred to as video nasties-were heavily censored and edited. One such censor is Enid (Niamh Algar, From The Dark) whose sister Nina (Amelia Child Villiers) has been missing since childhood. She encounters a horror film by a filmmaker named Frederick North (Adrian Schiller) whose film has imagery that reminds Enid of the fateful day Nina disappeared and stars an actress (Sophia La Porta) that reminds her of her lost sibling. Now Enid sets off to find North and get some answers while those possible answers bring Enid to the edge.

Effective British horror is directed by Prano Bailey-Bond from her script with Anthony Fletcher. It is an unsettling film and while we’ve seen films about the search for elusive horror filmmakers, this one is more about Enid never having closure and how it’s affected her all these years. It’s about her finding the truth and, unfortunately, not wanting to accept maybe her sister is gone—or is she? Bailey-Bond creates a nice atmosphere of tension and dread and visually the film has some disturbing imagery and doesn’t skimp on the gore. There are some familiar plot elements, but the cast is very good, especially Niamh Algar, and the director knows how to make a spooky and unnerving flick. Censor is now streaming on Amazon Prime and definitely recommended for a creepy watch and a filmmaker showing some real promise.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: FROM THE DARK (2014)

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FROM THE DARK (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Irish horror film begins in the rural countryside where a farmer (Gerry O’Brien) is doing an excavation and unearths what appears to to be the corpse of something humanoid buried beneath the ground. It proves to be not quite dead and attacks him. At the same time young couple Sarah (Niamh Algar) and Mark (Stephen Cromwell) are traveling through the area and run into car trouble. As fate would have it, they arrive at the farmer’s home to seek help and encounter the man with a severe neck wound and acting strangely. The farmer isn’t their only problem, though, as something else is out there in the dark night…something with a thirst for human blood.

Conor McMahon’s last film was the 2012 clown horror/comedy Stitches but, here he goes for a completely serious approach as he tells his Irish vampire story. He generates some nice tension and suspense, especially when using a plot device dealing with the creatures aversion to light…of which there is a lack of. There is some nice atmosphere and McMahon gives it a deliberately smoldering pace which works very well in maintaining the mood. There is plenty of action and more than adequate blood spilling and we also get a fiery and resourceful heroine from Algar’s Sarah, who has to battle the creature once Mark is badly wounded early on. It’s a small film and true, some scenes could have used more impact but, otherwise this is a fresh twist on the time-worn vampire story and a case where the ambiguity of our blood sucking fiend works very well for it. The Nosferatu-like creature (Ged Murray) is effective and kept in shadow and there is a tense cat and mouse game between it and Sarah for the last act. McMahon also establishes Sarah and Mark’s relationship and character very quickly which helps us sympathize and empathize with them throughout the story. There is some crisp cinematography and good use of the remote Irish locations by Michael Lavelle and a spooky score by Ray Harman to add to the film overall. A solid little horror.

I liked this little movie. It could have used a bit more intensity at times but, the minimalist approach worked very well in maintaining a subtle creepiness and the scenes of full-on horror are very effective. It’s atmospheric and manages to add a few small fresh twists to vampire lore while delivering the bloodshed and suspenseful action expected. Niamh Algar makes for a very endearing and feisty heroine and our creature is effectively vicious and mysterious. A good little horror that goes for a smaller, more intimate story in an age of bombastic FX overkill. Recommended.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 fangs.

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