Director: Ciaran Foy
In the inner-city slums of Ireland, emotionally wounded and agoraphobic Tommy (Aneurin Bernard) tries to protect his baby from a group of spooky ass hooded street kids/monsters who want get their claws on it for some reason. Run Tommy run!
I watched the Irish flick CITADEL a day after I endured that cinematic abortion THE APPARITION and man was it a breath of dead, cemetery friendly air! It’s like I always say, when in doubt tap some foreign horror! It often makes the wrong things right! Written and directed by Ciaran Foy CITADEL worked me right on many levels. Here’s the dealio yo!
I have to say it, this puppy showcased one of the most visceral openings I’ve seen in a horror film this year. Talk about starting off with a punch in the heart and a ring of the neck. I felt that stuff! OUCH! Alas, the movie never managed to reach that level of intensity and unease after the wam-bam prologue, but hey, that didn't mean there wasn’t some bleak fun to be had here. CITADEL was definitely not a happy go lucky picture. It was set in the slums of Ireland, which Ciaran Foy captured ideally behind the lens, conveying the filth and threat of the surroundings. Its lead character Tommy (Brilliantly tackled by Aneurin Bernard… what a performance!) was not only down and out because of a loss but he was agoraphobic as well (an anxiety disorder, scared of wide-open spaces), which as you can imagine became an obstacle when he had to run away from them evil children with KILL on the fritz. And yeah, then there was them damn brats!
The mini threats were basically a walking and stalking "social commentary" (about the inner city youth problem and how it affects common folks) but horror-ed up! Mostly faceless for the bulk of the running time, growling like underfed Zombies (or Supermodels) and abusing hoodies like nobody's beeyatch, them little buggers put the “y” in creepy. So for the bulk of the running time I was into it, feeling for the hero and his plight, curious as to WHAT these demon-tots were truly about and hoping for a happy ending for all. Some slight comic relief did kick in when James Cosmo's colorful priest character got in the mix, child actor Jake Wilson nailed it on his end and I esteemed the tenderness that Wunmi Mosaku brought to the whole as a caring nurse; but overall this was a mucho gloomy affair. Put gun to head, cock the hammer, squeeze trigger, BANG! Party with Jim Morison. Tag to all that a powerful score by Tomandandy (these guys can do no wrong) and a handful of twists that I didn’t see coming and you get a solid little genre ditty that was worth my time. So what's stopping me from giving it a higher score?
Well like I said before, the opening was so strong that I was a tad let down when the flick didn’t succeed in matching it tension wise down the road. Don’t get me wrong there was suspense now and again; it just wasn’t as thick as it could have been taking into account the f-ed up circumstances. Then we had our lead’s agoraphobia that sometimes got on my nerves. I caught myself wanting to grab that dude, slap him around and yell out “Man up bro! Your kid is depending on you to survive!”, it got a pinch frustrating. Finally I did feel that there was some redundancy in the middle section and that the last act dragged a bit. Nothing too severe but it had to be elbow dropped. All in all CITADEL was a well acted, at times nail biting, morbid and somewhat unique horror flick. Flawed but with its dead beat heart in the right place!
Some stabbings and a slit throat. Not abundant but squirm inducing when it went down.
T & A
Nobody is getting hard or wet watching this one.
CITADEL stabbed a killer opening, a potent premise, a prevailing social commentary, some tension and spooky children my way. Actor Aneurin Bernard was pure GENIUS and he carried the film like an Ace. Moreover the supporting cast was solid too. Alas, I didn’t think the flick was as suspenseful as it should have been, it was a bit redundant in places, had pacing issues and yeah, the hero’s agoraphobia grated me now and again. Grow a pair bro! But don’t get me wrong here, CITADEL was a very good flick, so see it!
The film won the Audience Award at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival.
Aneurin Barnard also acted in the gory Ironclad (2011) with James Purefoy.
Ciaran Foy directed a segment in the horror anthology Hotel Darklight (2009).