CIARAN FOY WRITES AND DIRECTS CITADEL, A QUIRKY INDEPENDENT HORROR THAT IMPRESSED AUDIENCES NO END DURING ITS TIME ON 2012'S FESTIVAL CIRCUIT.
The basic premise of Citadel focuses on Tommy, played by Aneurin Barnard, who suffers a horrific attack outside his council flat home, which leaves his young pregnant girlfriend comatose and Tommy holding the baby. The attackers are a gang of hooded kids; their weapon of choice a hypodermic needle. Fast forward a year or so and Tommy's suffering from acute agoraphobia, chronically depressed and in fear of losing Baby Elsa to social services. But a series of flashbacks and visions has Tommy wondering whether the hooded attackers, from before, are still at large.
Hoody horror has been a staple of the scene over the last five years. 2008's Eden Lake played it quite straight: a stalk-and-chase torture porn set in the UK, replacing the typical redneck antagonist with a gang of chavs.2010's F put a more ethereal spin on the trope, our hooded antagonists without expression or individuality, seeming to just bleed out of the walls like malevolent ghosts. With Citadel, we go one step further, our hoodies this time appearing totally demonic, with a similar look and stealth and sheer creepiness as the creatures from Neil Marshall's modern classic, The Descent, albeit in a different setting.
Everything about this movie screams urban decay. The palette is grainy, all muted colours and stark, winter sky. There's very little daylight, Tommy rarely venturing outside at all. His world is his council flat, its four walls solely lit by dimmed-down fluorescent or the flicker of an old TV set.
Foy's direction is very effective, allowing us to step inside Tommy's head space, creeping around walls with him, peering out of windows. The score is minimalist and unsettling, again working with the material. Barnard's performance is pivotal and he's excellent in the role, the fear and angst and paranoia he's feeling palpable; his eyes, his face, his every movement selling it to us during every second of the movie's 84 minute running time.
The rest of our cast are solid, James Cosmo bringing a welcome animation to proceedings with his angry Scottish priest, old-school in his resolve to fight fire with fire. Contrasting Cosmo is Winmu Mosaku's nurse, Marie, a benevolent presence in Tommy's life, helping to ground him, make rational sense of the things going on around him, the shadows and sounds that plague every waking hour. As viewers, we're never sure what is going on, right up until the end; Tommy's mental health always a concern.
Citadel is a wonderful addition to the Hoody Horror sub-genre, a well-paced and haunting creepfest best watched in the dead of night. It has elements of all the classic tropes in horror, from vampire to zombie to Satanic Panic, yet still manages to avoid being pigeonholed; its main concern being the character of Tommy and the rundown world he lives in. This is an outstanding debut from writer/ director Foy and surely one of the best DVD releases of the year.
CITADEL IS OUT ON SEP 30TH FROM METRODOME UK.
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