Citadel (2012) | Hiding your fear is you only chance of survival in this grim Irish hoodie horror
TOWER OF FEAR
With the help of a priest (James Cosmo) who has lost his faith and a blind orphan, young widower Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) must overcome his agoraphobia to take on the gang of feral kids that brutally attacked his pregnant wife in a condemned tower block and have now kidnapped his baby daughter, Elsa. But who – or what – are these faceless hoodies, and why do they want Elsa?
UNLEASHING THE BROOD
There’s a strong David Cronenberg body horror vibe running through this grim Irish hoodie horror. The feral kids, dressed in parkas similar to those in The Brood, are the manifestation of the urban and social decay that has become a cancerous infection inside the condemned Citadel council tower block, and like Cronenberg’s Shivers, the infection has now spread to the nearby rundown Edenstown estate, where Tommy now lives with baby Elsa.
If the bleak snow-covered urban landscape doesn’t get you down, then there’s the pain of watching poor Tommy catch the last bus out of the soulless hellhole, only for the gang to take Elsa. But the film’s downbeat social drama soon gives way to the horror bubbling beneath the surface when James Cosmo’s gruff, foul-mouthed priest reveals to Tommy the truth about the feral gang – that they are the spawn of junkies and outcasts and thrive on fear, and the only way that Tommy is going to get Elsa back is to man up.
Citadel might be a bit of a chore to sit through, but Aneurin Barnard’s effective performance as victim-turned-hero Tommy makes the journey worthwhile. Yes, it does have that Cronenberg vibe, plus just a hint of Philip Ridley’s 2010 dark fantasy Heartless, but director Ciaran Foy, making his feature debut here, also concocts some subtle scares that creep up on you. The shot of a group of elderly people huddled around a TV screen showing crows flying about is far more menacing than the feral kids lunging out of the dark, while the stolen children locked in cages in the Citadel’s darkened basement certainly brought a shiver down my spine.
A might see.