Citadel feels like a bunch of ideas (some good, some bad) that have been dropped into a cinematic blender and blitzed to hell. It’s not particularly an enjoyable combination, but you know that it has something good in there – somewhere.
Ciaran Foy’s film follows Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) a young father who watches as his pregnant wife is attacked by a group of hoodie-wearing youths. She doesn’t survive the attack and his daughter is born prematurely. Fast forward 6 months and Tommy is an agoraphobic shut-in, terrified of leaving his house. He’s befriended by one of the nurses who cared for his wife, but soon Tommy’s life is thrown into even more disarray when he begins to be menaced by a group of fashionable yobs with a penchant for hooded garments. Tommy takes solace with the local priest (James Cosmo), a grumpy badass who informs him that these street thugs aren’t kids – they’re creatures who want to take his daughter. Tommy is faced with a Catch 22 situation – man-up, or remain a pussy forever.
Good scares do not a good movie make. It’s brave of Foy to make a movie which is partly inspired by his own real-life attack which left him in an agoraphobic state, much like Tommy the protagonist. He gets that part of the film right – but everything else wrong. The world of Citadel never feels real, it’s like a dystopian nightmare of reality. It’s the kind of place Terry Gilliam would dream of, if he pigged-out on cheese before bedtime.
Star Aneurin Barnard is just too damn twitchy. I know he’s supposed to be a victim (we’re told this ad nauseam) but you can’t build a movie around a character like that. He’s like the bastard son of Johnny Depp’s Edward Scissorhands and Elijah Wood’s Frodo – minus cojones. It’s a weak starting point and the film never recovers from this central mistake.
I suppose the film’s climax is decent enough and the hood inbred-creature things are scary, but that’s not enough to make up for ludicrous plotting and a flimsy cinematic reality.
An interview with charisma void star Aneurin Barnard and a decent in-depth chat with writer/director Ciaran Foy. He seems like a really nice chap and it almost makes me feel bad for trashing his movie.