Citadel (2012)

With films like 'Wake Wood' and 'Grabbers' Ireland has gone a long way in elevating their status as a "go to" country for small under the radar horror films that speak softly, but carry big scares. "Citadel" certainly up holds and builds upon that recent precedent. Writer/Director Ciaran Foy steadily guides us through a film steeped in claustrophobia and paranoia as much as it is in blood and guts. But it's a tour de force performance by star Aneurin Bernard that makes 'Citadel' one of the most intriguing and thought provoking films of the year - regardless of genre.

Bernard is Tommy a young father who comes home one day to find his wife and unborn child beset upon by a group of hooded youths. His wife his killed but his baby survives. Months later paralyzed by agoraphobia fed by the fear of his wifes hooded attackers, Tommy finds it hard to even leave the house, let alone care for an infant.  His fear and paranoia is fed by his priest ('Game Of Thrones' James Cosmo) who insists the hooded menaces will return for Tommys child. When his last bastion of normalcy, nurse Marie, is murdered before his eyes by the same group of hooded hooligans, Tommys thin grip on sanity is shattered. When the group steals his child, much as the Priest had predicted, Tommy has no choice but to confront his fears and face the menace head on.

'Citadel' is by no means a perfect film. The "macguffin", if you will, is thin to say the least. I won't spoil it but, it's rather weak. There are also other large leaps in logic that have to be made for the film to really work. The fact that all these children can be disappearing without anyone but the crazy old priest noticing is an issue. There are others as well, but don't let them ruin what is is a terrific, tight little horror film.

Bernard is really what makes the film work. Close up scenes of characters cowering on corners are a dime a dozen, but Bernards eyes are so expressive, even the most jaded person has to feel something for him. The other dynamic at work her, beside Bernard performance is the rather touchy subject matter. Something about the violence that occurs to and around Tommys child really hits the heart strings. 'Citadel' actually feels a lot like an early Cronenberg film. It's not as gory and doesn't have the "body horror" that were early Cronenberg staples, but the feeling of unseen dread and paranoia are there. That's something that Cronenbergs early small films captured beautifully. Foy is able to do the same here, with expert precision.

'Citadel' is not one of those films that won't gross you out or wake you up at night in a cold sweat, but it will stay with you for days and will forever change the way you approach a kid with his hood up. Definitely check it out.

**** out of *****


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