Berberian Board of Film Classification

A couple of years ago I wrote a widely-ignored blog about what I termed a wave of post-theory horror,”1 because it’s fun to identify and name things, isn’t it? Anyway, the short version is there’s a lot of horror films being made which place precedent on the audience being very aware of its important themes and very aware that the filmmakers are clued up on The Horror Discourse. They know what a final girl is. They’ve read Men, Women and Chainsaws (or at least skimmed it). This is often do at the expense of actually making the film about the things it insists its about, and also of it ever being scary. Being about a thing is not the same as being the thing, you see.

Anyway, Censor is one of those. Niamh Algar plays a member of the BBFC during the height of the moral panic over Video Nasties. She is suffering from ITVPTDPTSD, or ITV primetime drama post-traumatic stress disorder, which is when you have flashbacks an incident your not-so-idyllic childhood shot on Super 8. Algar’s are to a sister who went missing while playing a game in the woods when they were young. Something which you would think makes her singularly unsuitable a job watching films where horrible things happen to young women in the woods, but hey-ho.

Censor makes very little of the aesthetic or thematic possibilities offered by Video Nasties or VHS2, and Algar’s character is clearly nuts from the start, so her descent” into madness elicits nothing more than a Partridge shrug. If you want the story of a traumatised woman finding absolution of a sort through trash cinema which crudely represents a lot of said trauma, read Kier-La Janisse’s House of Psychotic Women.

  1. Remember the Suspiria remake? I was mostly salty about having gotten up early for the LFF screening of that.↩︎

  2. There’s several sequences with very unconvincing tracking” added using After Effects!↩︎

August 27, 2021

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