Similar to Savage, Brendan Muldowney's punishing 2009 debut, there's genuine fear and hate coming off this horror from first time Irish writer-director Ciaran Foy, who skilfully avoids a revenge wish-fulfilment thriller to concentrate on the debilitating agoraphobia that can result from an unprovoked attack.
iving in a high rise block of flats, Tommy (Barnard) and pregnant Joanne (Amy Shiels) have decided to raise their child in more hospitable surroundings but on moving day, Joanne is set upon by a gang of feral children in hoodies, stabbing her in the belly with a syringe. The baby (a girl) miraculously survives but Joanne is in a coma and Tommy is encouraged by doctors to turn off the life support. With nothing to keep him in the area, a dilapidated housing estate where he is the last resident, Tommy prepares to leave but his crippling agoraphobia and the fear that those wandering feral kids will return keep him inside. Help comes in the form of Marie (Mosaku) and a barking local priest in James Cosmo (Braveheart).
nspired by a savage attack he experienced at the hands of hooded teens when he was eighteen, Ciaran Foy steeps Citadel in terror and paranoia. It's everywhere, dripping from every scene; putting the audience in Tommy's shuffling shoes, there's no escaping the feeling of encroachment of space despite the setting of a wide and largely empty housing estate.
lthough disguised in the horror genre, Citadel is a those-kids-are-no-good movie, which may rankle with liberal viewers. The feral estate kids are meant to be a gross exaggeration, though, a deliberate hyperbole of how a victim might view his/her hooded assailants: unfeeling non-entities brandishing hammers and dirty syringes. Foy entertains the opposing view - "It's easy to demonise these kids – they need our sympathy," says Marie, and Cosmo's mad priest mutters "I abandoned them," - but the director ensures that feelings of anger and fear are justified. Its politics might veer to the right but Citadel can't be accused of wanting it both ways.
he director can thank Anuerin Barnard then for bringing real warmth and humanity to what could have been just an angry diatribe. The perpetually-startled Barnard throws himself into the role and delivers in Citadel's more tender scenes, mainly with the baby and Mosaku.
psychological thriller/horror, Citadel, after careful plotting, wraps up all too quickly but Foy shows a lot of promise in his first film.