Thursday, January 30, 2014

Citadel Review

A semi-autobiographical movie from Writer/Director Ciaran Foy, starring James Cosmo from Game of Thrones and Aneurin Barnard, Citadel is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in years.

I was surprised to learn how much of this Irish import was based in real life when I watched the behind the scenes featurette, with Foy mentioning he’d been attacked with a hammer and a dirty syringe as a teenager, which led to his struggles with agoraphobia.  In the film, it’s the main character Tommy’s pregnant wife who gets attacked with a syringe in their high-rise apartment, while he can do nothing but watch from behind the faulty elevator door.  The culprits behind the attack?  Feral children clad in dirt-caked white hoodies. 

Not long after, Tommy is alone and raising his infant daughter, Elsa, all but crippled by the terror he feels toward the outside world.  To make matters worse, the children in the hoodies aren’t your typical punk kids, and they’re coming back for Tommy’s child.  And worse still, these kids can see his fear, honing in on it like a shark with blood in the water. 

The film is shot in a way to make you feel claustrophobic, getting up close to the protagonist as he delivers a spellbinding, believable performance.  The characters are as likable as they are vulnerable, which is the best way to create suspense, in my eyes.  As is having something to protect, and something to lose.  Rarely did I find myself worried about Tommy himself, but that’s not the point of the film.  It’s not Tommy who was attacked to begin with.  His fear springs from his inability to defend those he cares for. 

The plot felt a bit reminiscent of After Earth, the recent Will Smith & M. Night Shyamalan collaboration, which is all about overcoming fear, but in a much different manner.  In this movie, it’s understood that bravery doesn’t come from the elimination of fear, but in persevering despite it. 

If you like suspense, or if you just like well-crafted movies that draw you in and feature great performances, then definitely give this one a try. 

Favorite line from the movie: “If you don’t wanna get dead, hold my hand.”

Rating: 5 stars.  


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