Citadel (2012)

Directed By: Ciaran Foy
Written By: Ciaran Foy
Starring: Aneurin Barnard
  James Cosmo
  Wunmi Mosaku
  Ian Hanmore

When Tommy Cowley (Aneurin Barnard) witnesses his wife being attacked by three hooded youths, he’s horrified to discover a syringe jabbed into her pregnant belly. This seemingly-random attack leaves him as a single dad with crippling agoraphobia, left looking after his daughter in a dilapidated housing estate long-set for ‘regeneration’.

Due to move out of his solitary home in a sea of empty houses, he suddenly finds himself being stalked by the same ‘hoodies’ who destroyed his life before… but there appears to be more of them, and they’re acting very oddly.

Enlisting the help of a local Priest (James Cosmo), Tommy goes on a bold and terrifying journey into the nature of fear in the heart of a condemned housing estate, facing a foe with an unimaginable history.

Citadel is intriguing, well-acted film that is surprising, disturbing and unfortunately a bit ridiculous. It falls apart in its ‘finale’, which is sadly generic, but overall manages to keep you hooked throughout.

Aneurin Barnard gives a superb performance as the damaged Tommy, dragging up some of the toughest emotions to display a rarely seen figure in film; a single Dad with a crippling psychological disorder. Believable throughout, Barnard ensures you have a protagonist to root for.

The cinematography on offer here is also superb, delivering an incredibly grim and horrendous depiction of “Edenstown”, one of many stalled regeneration projects scattered around the UK and Ireland. Upsettingly realistic, the area itself has a dangerous, nasty character that makes Tommy’s agoraphobia completely understandable.

What about our antagonists? Well, there’s no case for ‘hugging a hoodie’ in Citadel (despite one notably failed attempt) because these youths aren’t willing to listen to reason… or anything, for that matter.

Although delivering a disturbing image with these hooded mysteries, writer / director Ciaran Foy over-explains them and the awkward, bizarre reasons for their existence eventually jars with reality. Whereas F and Them ensured you kept guessing what the assailants wanted or needed, the purpose of Citadel’s antagonists will baffle and confuse most audiences.

Overall Citadel is a decent little horror flick with some superb central performances and a grim, dark cinematography that is both starkly beautiful and utterly horrifying. Ruined by the ‘reveal’ and a clunky final act, Ciaran Foy’s debut feature is still worth a watch.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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