Star – James Cosmo
Genre – Horror
Run Time – 84 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – U.K
Awards – 11 Wins & 7 Nominations
Amazon – £ DVD £ Blue Ray
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There have been quite a few tower block movies of late, from the excellent British Sci-Fi horror comedy Attack the Block to the rather silly but fun psycho thriller Tower Block, ALSO from the U.K., and the so-so screwball Ben Stiller comedy Tower Heist with Ben Stiller from America, oh and lets not forget the surprisingly good Judge Dredd remake and the superb The Raid, those two very similar films in plot but very different in action. Sadly Citadel is on mezzanine level of all these films alongside Ben Stiller. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or anything but the standard high in this genre. High Rise with Tom Hiddlston is comfortably the worse one I have seen of late.
Citadel is from first time feature director Ciarán Foy, who got the idea for the story from an incident where he was attacked by a gang of feral kids at age eighteen in Belfast. The whole film was shot with a hand-held camera to bring that gritty urban realism and the director’s agoraphobia that he suffered after that attack for quite a few years also features heavily in the story.
• Aneurin Barnard as Tommy
• James Cosmo as Priest
• Jake Wilson as Danny
• Wunmi Mosaku as Marie
• Harry Saunders as Elsa
• Amy Shiels as Joanne
Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) and Joanne (Amy Shiels), who is pregnant, live in a grotty dilapidated tower block complex in an unnamed city in the United Kingdom (it appears to be Govan, Glasgow) One day, when Tommy is in an elevator, Joanne is cornered by a group of hoodies on their landing floor and attacked, Tommy watching on helplessly through the lift viewing window as it descends. Rushing back up the stairs she has some bad injuries and a syringe stuck in her belly as she is rushed to hospital.
Joanne survives and gives birth to little Elsa, a healthy girl. However, Joanne remains in a coma for several months, eventually being taken off life support. Tommy is grief-stricken and in a mess, re-housed in another rough area of the city and left to care for the baby alone on welfare. His guardian angel is pretty nurse Marie (Wunmi Mosaku), who attempts to help him with his baby and agoraphobia, the result of his traumatic experience.
Joanne doesn’t make it and at her funeral, Tommy meets a foul-mouthed priest (James Cosmo), who warns him that the gang will be back for his daughter Elsa. The next day the feral kids in hoodies are back and over the week break into his council flat and trash the place looking for his daughter. Tommy calls Marie for help as his nerves can’t take it. The nurse finds Tommy barricaded in his bathroom and cowering behind the sink with his daughter with a hammer in his hand, looking terrified. Trying to calm him down, Marie does not think this is the same gang who killed his partner, instead suggesting that he's simply the victim of two random, violent attacks and these kids need love to stop being violent. Unconvinced, Tommy demands to see the priest again, and Marie offers to help. But these kids are not what they seem and the priest suggests Tommy has to fight his fears and confront the thugs, oh and blow up the tower block in the process.
It’s not a bad film but not particularly special. It’s a good idea to use the fear of agoraphobia around the scourge of the baseball capped, tracker wearing underclass in our cities and the fear that induces in us all but never quite exploits that visceral fear. The only thing the working-class has to level it up in our class system is violence, and the confidence to deliver it. Thy know Middle England, when confronted with it in the street will cower and back off to avoid confrontation and humiliation. I think this film is really about that, as it is fighting your fears, of course. I had bad mugging by a young lad with a machete and it took me a while to get over that, even though I thought I had.
Horror wise there is tension as the film skirts around various genres. But it’s more suggested horror by Foy as we don’t quite see the faces and world of our villains. They are clearly not your regular chav feral runts and wield a good idea bar with extra strength. But it helps to have that hinted Sci-fi and supernatural horror element to move the film forward and keep you interested.
The acting is good and although Cosmo ‘the star’ to sell the film , Aneurin Barnard is good in the lad and looks like a young Alistair Cook of England cricket fame.
Imdb.com – 5.5/10.0 (5,748votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 55% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 60% critic’s approval
Guardian – ‘Foy's talent lies in suggesting horror, not delivering it’.
Tim Out –‘Despite its defiantly un-PC 'fear-a-hoodie' message, the film nails its urban setting, filling every frame with a richly sustained sense of despair, decay and dread’.
Empire Magazine –‘Plenty of pungent ideas and a nice line in urban terror. The final product falls short of the best in Brit horror, though’.
Los Angles Times –‘"Citadel" attempts to transform mundane anxieties into the stuff of a horror film. But the initial tension of the premise dissipates like a slow leak.’
Film Reel –‘Citadel slowly-but-surely squanders a promising opening to become a rather interminable thriller that feels endless even at 84 minutes’.
The Mail –‘The film's pretty repugnant if taken as social commentary, but plays with contemporary fears and anxieties incredibly effectively’.
Radio Times –‘Despite being innovatively directed and punchily edited, as a genre piece this is lacking in depth and genuine dread’.
The Sun –‘The concept eventually turns into predictably contrived genre fodder with muddled sociopolitical undercurrents’