Release Date: 9th July 2013

Director: Ciaran Foy

Cast: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Jake Wilson, Ingrid Craigie, Amy Shiels and Wunmi Mosaku

Writer: Ciaran Foy

Trailer: CITADEL 

Review by Joe Pesci II below.



One thought on “CITADEL

  1. CITADEL – review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher

    CITADEL opens in a somewhat dilapidated-high rise block of flats (after all there are no non-dilapidated blocks of high-rise flats, that would be stupid). A young couple are moving out. Clearly they are doomed. They are even more doomed when the camera pulls back to reveal that the young woman is heavily pregnant. The rules of ‘edgy’ cinema clearly state that pregnant women must either die or lose the baby, or ideally, both. The moment I saw the bump I gave her seven minutes to live. I was wrong. After three minutes she’s been stabbed in the bump with a syringe by some hoody-wearing children or midgets (but she does survive in a coma until the fifteen minute mark). But the baby lives. These supposed shock tactics are usually a lazy and cynical way to attempt to build tension, empathy and apprehension. To be fair, the resultant baby does have a significant role in this film, but to be honest, the moment I saw the bump I knew that CITADEL would have to do a huge amount to mollify my self-righteous scorn. It failed.

    So, some months later we find our hero Aneurin Barnard living with baby in the house he had meant to share with comatose (and soon to be dead) girlfriend. Curiously the whole point of moving out of the high-rise flats was to go somewhere nicer. But the sinister syringe-wielding hoody-wearing children or midgets are still hanging around. Or are they just in his mind? Barnard is a nervous wreck following the attack, but fortunately there’s a young lady who is on hand to help, played by Wunmi Mosaku. It’s never quite established what she is: it seems that she’s a nurse, who also helps out at a hospice, and a youth club, and an old folks’ home, and a care home, and a church, and a school, and she seems to be a psychiatrist, psychologist and psychotherapist as well. All this do-gooding does of course lead to her downfall. ‘They just need to be understood’ she says of the syringe-wielding hoody-wearing children or midgets. Sure enough, only minutes after saying this they kill her. (Well, actually, it looks more like they poke her in the face and she falls down; our hero doesn’t stick around after that to ascertain the full extent of the injuries.)

    But who are these syringe-wielding hoody-wearing children or midgets? The police (of course) aren’t interested. But there’s one man who is. (BIG SPOILER AHEAD.) Their granddad. (I think he’s their grandfather, it’s ages since I saw this but yes, I think he turns out to be related.) Who also turns out to be a vigilante vicar with an uncompromising attitude (that means he swears a lot) and is played with gusto by James Cosmo.

    Being a man of the cloth he comes up with a plan to deal with the syringe-wielding hoody-wearing children or midgets: blow them up. And so, Barnard and Cosmo return to the high-rise flats of death (where all the syringe-wielding hoody-wearing children or midgets hang out, and where they’re keeping Barnard’s baby – I forgot, they kidnap her at some point with the aim of turning her into a syringe-wielding hoody-wearing child or midget). I shan’t give away who lives and who dies, nor will I say if they blow the flats up. (What do you think?)

    Some of the film works quite well. Aneurin Barnard is always good, and I liked James Cosmo. Wunmi Mosaku had nothing to do other than sigh and look vaguely encouraging. The film is stronger when it suggests that the threats are in Barnard’s mind. When we see that the syringe-wielding hoody-wearing children or midgets are real it gets noticeably worse, and by the time we’ve discovered the semi-supernatural identities of the syringe-wielding hoody-wearing children or midgets (I love the inventor of copy & paste) I’d all but given up.

    Apparently the writer-director made this film after being attacked (by violent people not online critics) and CITADEL is his response. Well, it’s good that he found an outlet, and the stuff dealing with Barnard’s isolation and paranoia is effective, but there’s too much wrong with the conception. One minute the baddies are just vile little kids, then they the next they turn out to be some sort of supernatural feral beasts; the audience isn’t given any clues, we just get told stuff, stuff which seems to be just that little bit too unlikely. CITADEL (and why the ironic title?), despite a few interesting moments here and there isn’t sufficiently thought out, and needed more than a cast of five (and that includes both a toddler and a child actor who I’d forgotten about). (The child actor’s perfectly good by the way.) Bizarrely, there are better tower block based horror movies out there.

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