Ireland / United Kingdom (English)
Written and Directed by Ciaran Foy
"Citadel" manages to both stand out and fall amongst the run-of-the-mill horror genre at times. It deserves recognition for exploring uncovered ground and being uniquely terrifying.
"Citadel" is the second film in my month of horror marathon and offers something I have not quite seen before. After a traumatic experience of watching his pregnant wife be attacked by a gang of children (resulting in her eventual death and leaving him a young, single father) Tommy develops agoraphobia. He is our frightened protagonist, often photographed in an up-close-and-personal manner so as to bring us into his psyche. Director Ciaran Foy suffered from a similar condition after an attack and he manages to make an un-relatable condition an unnerving presence in the film. For example, Tommy suffers from panic attacks before going outside each day. His heavy breathing lasts for minutes and the brooding music ensures us something terrible is out there. This impact only magnifies when the children, who (surprise, surprise) are not quite children, start showing up again.
A friendly nurse helps Tommy care for the baby while a local preacher warns that they (the "children") will come for her (Tommy's daughter). Do not expect a battle against the evil herein because Tommy is too afraid. He spends most of his time hiding and running though when his daughter is snatched he has to deal with not just the general fears any of us would have, but his condition. We learn that the "children" are blinded and can only sense fear in their victims, driving home the pressing phobia at hand. Tommy teams up with the preacher and his son to fight more than just fear.
The screening I attended for "Citadel" seemed to have some audio complications. In one scene we could hear two babies crying when there was clearly meant to be just one. Sound effects were rather booming and echoey, not necessarily on purpose. Furthermore, I would recommend you seek out a version with subtitles as the collection of English accents (especially the preacher) can be difficult to discern. "Citadel" is the Foy's first feature film who heretofore was producing shorts at his film school in Ireland. "Citadel" is a fine debut; it is well-acted while abounding with chilling sequences. The powerful final sequence stands in admirable contrast to how most horror films conclude.
CONTENT: some bloody violence, some strong language, disturbing and frightening imagery