Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
This October I decided to watch and review some of those great horror movies (31 to be exact) that I missed on their initial release. And for Part 21 of my series of the 31 OF THE BEST HORROR MOVIES YOU (MAY HAVE) MISSED we will be checking out psychological horror Citadel. Let’s get to it:
Day 21 of 31: Citadel (2012)
Director: Ciaran Foy
Starring: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wunmi Mosaku
IMDb Trivia: Ciaran Foy got the idea for the story from an incident where he was attacked by a gang of kids at age 18.
Plot: An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children.
Review: Have you ever had to walk through a park at night? Or take a short cut through a dodgy looking neighborhood? How about that feeling you had as a little kid when you had to get up at night to go to the bathroom? We don’t just feel that fear, do we? It’s almost like you can taste it at the back of your throat, like you’ve been sucking on a penny. And that’s the palpable fear writer/director Ciaran Foy brings to the forefront with his movie Citadel.
I’ve had this one on the backburner for years (it debuted in 2012) and finally decided to make the time for this tale of isolation, agoraphobia and all of the fear and uncertainty that comes with being a new parent. Aneurin Barnard is Tommy, a young man who on the cusp of becoming a father tragically loses his wife when she’s attacked by a group of children. Their daughter survives and is born healthy but Tommy is deeply scarred by the event and now struggles with agoraphobia. On top of that he has the sole responsibly of taking care of a nine-month-old while living in a dilapidated flat that makes the apartments in Attack the Block look like the Marriott.
Barnard is riveting as Tommy, his pale features and gaunt look the perfect backdrop to his sympathetic performance. I found myself instantly rooting for him and his literal fight for survival and a better life for his daughter. The cinematography, with its washed-out colours and bleak atmosphere, brought to mind 28 Days Later. Add to that the snowy location, a brilliant sound design that plays on your every nerve, and a gang of faceless children in hoodies who can literally smell your fear and you have the perfect recipe for terror.
Rounding out the main cast of characters are a priest (James Cosmo), who thinks the “hoodies” are evil and need to be burned out and destroyed, and a social worker Marie (Wunmi Mosaku) who thinks Tommy should sympathise with these unknown children who likely have been abandoned and need help. All three are representations of society as a whole and the way we tend to fear and vilify the young displaced children who grow up in the ghettos and abandoned neighbourhoods of this world. For me the saddest aspect is we’re almost a decade ahead of when this movie came out and nothing has really changed; young men in their hoodies are shot down every day for no reason other than “they looked scary” and the world just keeps on turning.
If you don’t wish to go down that rabbit hole of allegory you don’t have to worry, Citadel can very much be enjoyed as a simple, straightforward horror movie. Dread permeates from every scene, even the quieter moments, and Aneurin Barnard’s performance grounds the insanity and keeps you invested right up to the end. If you missed out on this one like I did when it first released I highly, HIGHLY recommend giving it a go.
Sommer’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
You can check out Part 20 of my 31 Days List and throwback horror The Wretched below together with my ranking of the Top 5 Evil Kids in Horror Movies.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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