Censor (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide, including BFI Southbank

The moral panic of the early 80s video nasties scandal is the setting for this inspired debut feature from Welsh director Prano Bailey-Bond. Charged with assessing the tidal wave of filth and depravity unleashed into our homes by the new VHS technology, and suggesting where to cut, a film censor (Niamh Algar) with a tragic past begins to become obsessed with the idea that her long-missing younger sister may be working with one of Z-grade horror’s sleaziest auteurs. Affectionately pastiching the tawdry aesthetics of the era’s more disreputable offerings, Censor plays a bit like Paul Schrader’s missing-daughter drama Hardcore (1979) transposed from the porn industry to the horror movie business. Amid the referentiality, however, is a genuinely affecting study of a woman working her way through grief.

Pig (2021)

Where’s it on? Cinemas nationwide

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Just as the lysergic colours of Censor’s climactic scenes in a forest recall Panos Cosmatos’s rainbow-hued horror Mandy (2018), the presence of Nic Cage once again living out in the woods in Michael Sarnoski’s slow-burner Pig seems to promise similarly eruptive violence. There won’t be blood, though. Instead, Pig knowingly bucks the trend of latter-day Cage vehicles in keeping him on relatively restrained form as a truffle-hunting hermit who is forced to venture back to the gentrified civilisation of Portland when his trusty porcine helper is kidnapped. Sometimes a week’s release schedule throws together very different films with a weird kinship, and you could say that Pig is like Censor with the horror industry swapped out for the upmarket restaurant scene. Cage too must travel into the belly of the beast in search of his missing companion, while attempting to process his loss. 

Bombay (1995)

Where’s it on? Netflix

Bombay (1995)

An interfaith romance set against the backdrop of the Bombay (now Mumbai) riots of late 1992, this Tamil-language classic sees director Mani Ratnam pull off his unusual trick of balancing real-world politics with sweeping big-screen melodrama. Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala star as the lovers from across the Hindu-Muslim divide who elope from the rural south to Bombay just as religious tensions are set to bubble over into violence in the city. Set to stunning music by A.R. Rahman, including the goosebump-inducing love song ‘Tu Hi Re’, this must count among the most incendiary movie musicals ever made, proving so controversial on release that Ratnam’s house was targeted with bombs by extremists. It’s been added to Netflix this week, where it joins Ratnam’s subsequent ripped-from-the-headlines musical Dil Se.. (1998).

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Where’s it on? Blu-ray

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

A gothic tale of ghosts, family secrets and madness set in an imposing mansion, A Tale of Two Sisters was one of the major films of the millennial Korean New Wave that ushered in the careers of Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon Ho. Kim Jee-woon’s lavishly appointed chiller begins with a young girl being released from a mental institution and sent to live on a country estate where her sister lives under the care of their forbidding stepmother. In its carefully modulated sense of unease and its knack for an unsettling image, A Tale of Two Sisters has surely been hugely influential on the boom in supernatural horrors that clog up Netflix’s algorithms to this day. It makes its Blu-ray bow from Arrow this week, with extras including a perceptive video essay relating it to gothic tradition by critic Kat Ellinger.

Wind River (2017)

Where’s it on? Channel 4, Sunday, 11.10pm

After his screenplays for Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario (2015) and David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water (2016), Taylor Sheridan continued a run of contemporary thrillers with the contours of a western with this self-directed effort. Tackling the real-life issue of violence against Native American women in the present day, Wind River is set on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming and begins with the discovery of the frozen body of an 18-year-old woman in the snow. As the community grieves, FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olson) draws on the local knowledge of Jeremy Renner’s US Fish and Wildlife Service tracker to help solve the murder. As in Sicario, Sheridan arguably pulls off the dubious tactic of sidelining the female agent to prove the male’s dominance in his field, yet for the most part Wind River succeeds as a gripping, wintry thriller.