Director: Ciaran Foy .
Starring: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Jake Wilson, Wunmi Mosaku. Ireland/Scotland/UK. 1h 24m.
A deeply moving and scary psychological horror, written and directed by Ciaran Foy,who later went on to direct Sinister 2 (2015). In this dark Gaelic horror drama we’re introduced to a young couple expecting, Tommy (Barnard) and Joanne (Shiels) live in a decomposing apartment block, while returning home, the couple get separated, while Tommy is in the lift, a group of hooded teens start attacking his heavily pregnant girlfriend as he desperately tries to escape the confines of the lift, he finds her unconscious, with a syringe in her stomach, during flashbacks we see that Joanne survives and gives birth to a baby girl, but remains in a coma and eventually is taken off life support. The distraught Tommy attempts to care for his daughter while dealing with acute agoraphobia as a result of the ordeal, his only support is Marie (Mosaku).
At the funeral, he’s confronted by a foul mouthed priest (Cosmo) who informs Tommy that the hoodie gang aren’t human anymore and will come back for his daughter. The next day the hoodies attempt to break in but Tommy manages to barricade himself in his bathroom, Marie finds him wielding a hammer, and coaxes him out of his ransacked apartment.Tommy goes back to the priest for more information but neight him or Marie are buying into the idea that a dark demonic force has mutated the teens and they are not only killing but stealing children to raise to be other demonic hoodies, the creatures are blind and feral and feed on fear. The priest wants to blow the entire building up and Tommy retreats to Marie’s apartment as a new safe haven until she decides to confront the teens in an attempt to prove that they are just kids who need care and love.. then things start to go horribly wrong.
The film is a recovery piece, Ciaran Foy based the film on personal experience, where he was attacked by a group of hoodies, who threatened him with a syringe, despite not taking anything; the experience left him agoraphobic for some time, but part of his recovery was the creation of this dark story.
The film is shot well using lots of fast action to enforce the feeling of being trapped and the viciousness of the hoodies, the animalistic nature of the kids hidden behind hoods is an all familiar sight, both on screen and probably in your daily life, transforming these faceless kids into monsters has been done in two ways, just showing them up as being the violent idiots they are as in Eden Lake (2008) or at times a more sinister mythology surrounds like like the emotional Heartless (2009). Citadel takes things a step further giving the mythos a cycle which isn’t too far from what is out there. Within the grime of this tower block a new urban legend is breeding and creepy, stalking and destroying lives.
The film is dark and incredibly claustrophobic, Barnard is brilliant in his role as a frightened man, often seems like he’d shit himself at the sight of his own shadow, the nightmare that is going on around him slowly breaks him down and watching him physically and mentally crumble is hard, as it should be. Cosmo’s unique priest, the gruff anti hero who has a deeper connection to what’s going on than he’s like to admit, is a great performance.
At times the film can be so frustrating as Tommy struggles to keep his shit together, with all the injustice going on it makes the blood boil, but mental health issues like this can be so crippling, and with the director’s own personal struggles it really pinpoints accurate possibilities.
R – Harry Brown (2009), Eden Lake (2008), Cherry Tree Lane (2010), Heartless (2009), Ils (2006), Tower block (2012),
L – Hoodie Horrors
A – When Hoodies became a viable Movie Monster.
5S – James Cosmo, Aneurin Barnard