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I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this having not heard of it before coming across it when browsing Amazon. The reviews seemed to be promising, but I didn't look in to the synopsis too much as I wanted a surprise. It wasn't a nasty surprise either; granted, it had its downsides, but it was a reasonably enjoyable watch when you're in the mood for something a little more psychological.
Sensored was directed by Ryan Todd, who I hadn't heard of before but he seems to have had various roles in several lesser-known pieces and TV stints. It fits in to the genre of a psychological thriller, though it seems to be quite an understated one that hasn't had much limelight. We're introduced by Wade, a quiet man who is somewhat of a social recluse; his dream and hobby seems to be in writing children's books and drawing the accompanying pictures, but by day he rarely sees anyone.
Anyone, that is, apart from the person he seems to be holding hostage in his cellar / make-shift dungeon. He seems to be torturing him, though we're not sure why, who he is or why he seems to be killing other people in front of this man too. To teach him a lesson perhaps? To get some sick thrills from it? Or maybe he's reliving and 'dealing' with his childhood experiences, which he provides some insight in to. As an abandoned young boy who saw something horrific, we're led to believe that Wade has become a tortured soul that has gone on to torture others.
Enter Gail, a somewhat nosy neighbour that seems to have taken a shine to Wade despite his social awkwardness and inability to simply be nice to her. Obviously, we know that some of his edgy demeanor is because he doesn't want to let her get too close, he doesn't want her to hear the screams of the man in the basement. And quite rightly so, as that would put off any woman! We also meet another character that is part of the dark secret in Wade's house, Jefferies. Again, it's not clear who he is or why he's there, so it's all a bit of a mystery wrapped in a mystery.
I won't say any more about the plot per se except that as the film progresses, things starts to unravel bit by bit. We learn a bit more, we make some educated guesses, and then we question them as another twist hits the premise. I like films that aren't all they seem, and this fits the bill. Appearances can be deceiving and things aren't always that easy to guess. Having said that, perhaps because I've seen a lot of psychological thrillers and have come to expect the unexpected, I did guess roughly what was coming up. The ending helped tie up a few unanswered questions, only to add a new one. It may not have felt like it made complete sense, but I like that it wasn't a completely clichéd ending.
The film itself seemed to have quite a slow pace for the majority of the time. At first I found this quite frustrating because it seemed a bit dull and dry, pretty much giving us a monologue from Wade with very little action or development of other characters. As time went on, the psychological aspects kicked in a little more, livening things up a bit even when physical action was still toned down. We see little in the way of real gore, but there are elements of it and some torture, giving thriller fans what they want. I wouldn't say it was an 'edge of my seat' film, but it did make me think about what was going on with the plot, why Wade was doing the things he was doing etc.
Heading up the cast as Wade was Robert Picardo, the legend from Star Trek and Stargate. Other notable roles were played by Sarah Knowlton as Gail, David Fine as Jefferies (the older man in Wade's dark secret) and Brian Rife as Darren (an unfortunate victim), amongst others. Characters were, on the whole, played quite well; Picardo was realistic in his portrayal of the intelligent but desperate, determined but socially closed off guy that we look at with suspicion. He gave credence to the role and help to ground the film with a sense of down-to-earth realism. His was the most developed character, but because there wasn't that large a cast, I thought that other characters could have been given more depth.
Overall, this film did seem quite slow and irksome at times, but it was worth a watch when I was at a loose end that night. I'd recommend this as a psychological thriller that needs some attention to grasp, but don't expect a necessarily easy-to-understand ending.
DVD released 2011, rated Certificate 18, running time 87 minutes.
Selling on Amazon for £3.97
[Also reviewed by me, gothic_moon, on Ciao]