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What’s it About?

An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a gang of twisted feral children who committed an act of violence against his family years earlier.

“Citadel”

Directed by Ciaran Foy

7 out of 10

By Vic

Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard (Ironclad) stars in Ciaran Foy’s thriller, Citadel, as Tommy. Tommy is a young and vulnerable man who suffers the  attack of his pregnant wife Joanne (Amy Shiels) by some strange, aggressive and feral children. She is attacked early on as Tommy and she prepare to move away from a run down, ghetto project high rise. Director Foy starts the story off right away in a moody tone of stark lighting and creepy shots of the dilapidated building. The feral attackers inject his wife with an unknown substance that puts her in a coma. She is able to deliver her child and the Doctors hand the baby over to Tommy who is overcome with guilt and grief.

The story by Foy (Scumbot) becomes an interesting  character study about Tommy and his responsibility to his newborn baby. Some time passes (A few months) and his daughter is now a toddler. Unfortunately because of the terrible attack, Tommy now suffers from a panic dis-order and agoraphobia. He can barely move about outside and he is literally paralyzed by his condition. He makes it to group therapy where he is taught how to face his fears and accept his disorder.

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In an interesting moment he is instructed to walk around in a circle and project himself into a fearful situation. He is told afterwards that victims remain victims because they “project” fear that stalkers and criminals can detect or this case the dangerous feral inhabitants of the “Citadel” that they seem to live and lurk in. Even body language is potentially dangerous. I like how Foy reels us in with the strength of Barnard’s convictions and steady portrayal of a man afflicted by death and fear.

The fear element is where Foy seems to want us to gravitate to and identify with. After Joanne’s burial he comes across a foul mouthed and seemingly unstable Priest played by James Cosmo (Braveheart) who along with a very generous Nurse named Marie, played by Wumni Mosaku, try to help Tommy get through this mess. The children follow him to his house and break in and try to take his daughter.

He slowly descends even more into his madness of fear and doubt. Marie lets him stay at her place after she finds him and his baby locked inside the bathroom right after an attack. Eventually Tommy begins to believe the Priest and seeks out his help after his daughter is kidnapped, a bus driver killed and Marie attacked.

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It appears that fear is so tangible in Foy’s universe that Tommy is a type of magnet for these hideous “demons” that resemble the nasty little bastards from Cronenberg’s “The Brood.”  The Priest, who really isn’t that pious, tells Tommy that the children kidnap babies. They inject mothers to be and cause premature births in order to snatch them away and raise them amongst their own. Tommy, The Preist and a small blind child named Danny (who know how to repel the creatures by not “fearing” them) combine forces to get rid of the children after Tommy gets his daughter back.

Director Foy’s first full length film is atmospheric, claustrophobic and is quite emotionally driven for a movie about killer kids. Foy also adds a bit of commentary regarding the way the social collapses have affected the young and old alike. The character of the Preist has an interesting story arc that is quite sad and gripping. The child Danny is mysterious and seems to be a sort of talisman for Tommy. The sequence regarding the infiltration is truly a descent into hell for Tommy and it is here that I find the film falters just a bit.

The movie becomes what is known as a “Hoodie Horror” and loses tension in the dark hallways and bowels of the Citadel. Unlike “The Brood” and “Them” (which are better films), Citadel becomes a chase flick with close calls and some some graphic violence thrown in. It isn’t all bad though. Foy manages to maintain suspense and emotion.

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Tommy and Danny discover the true horrors behind the children and the finale is quite gripping if a bit abrupt. I liked most of what I saw and felt in “Citadel” and I think this was a great first attempt by a talented movie maker. I will be curious to see what Foy has in store as his budgets get bigger. I’d like to see him maintain the ability to build mood, tension and emotion like he did here.

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