Review: CITADEL (2012)

To watch a movie such as CITADEL you have to be ready to dive head in to a world of fear, anxiety, and terror. This film will test you on every level, and by the time the credits roll you’ll find yourself catching that breath you’ve been chasing the whole time. Intense to say the least CITADEL is effective in every way. 

 CITADEL (2012)
Written and Directed by: Ciaran Foy
Stars: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wunmi Mosaku, Jake Wilson, and Amy Shiels
MPAA Rating: R
CITADEL features Tommy (Aneurin Barnard), a young dad, who suffers from a severe case of agoraphobia brought on after his pregnant wife was brutally attacked by a gang of hooded children. He flees his past to raise his daughter, but soon finds himself being terrified by the same gang now interested in claiming his daughter for themselves. As his fear worsens the gangs interest strengthens and now Tommy must find a way to claim back his life and the life of his daughter. With the help of a vigilante priest (James Cosmo), Tommy makes a final stand to feel the fear and let it pass.
The story is as rich as the images playing out on that big screen, and Ciaran Foy makes the dread come to life. From second 1 till its poetic end, the movie is gripping. Flat out 100% gripping. You as a viewer hang on to every moment feeling every weight being placed upon our main characters shoulders and by the time the cinematic sun rises you finally breath. It’s that suspenseful, but not in the traditional way. It’s more thoughtful than that and takes human emotion into consideration. This movie is all horror, with a ton of heart. Fear, love, and regret run a river straight through this film, and you can’t help but raft up and get emotionally invested.
This film is riddled with great acting, but our emotional anchor throughout is Tommy acted remarkably by Aneurin Barnard (“IRONCLAD,” “HUNKY DORY”). While watching this film I found myself comparing him to a modern-day Edward Scissorhands. A being troubled by his past, whose sunken face and powder-white complexion automatically finds a place in your heart and forces you to go on this journey with him. Barnard’s acting is so seamless that while the movie presses on you take on every feeling, stress, and fear that our main character experiences. You feel sorry for this guy from the moment the first tragedy strikes and throughout the film as this snowball of crap builds up and finally collapses upon him. Barnard takes this extremely difficult and emotionally trying role and delivers an intense realistic performance. The other two performances that stood out were by our vigilante priest played by James Cosmo (“BRAVEHEART,” “TRAINSPOTTING”) and the mysterious fair child Danny played by Jake Wilson (“YOUNG JAMES HERRIOT”). Cosmo’s character provides all of the comic relief of the film as well as the machismo spice needed to knock some sense into Tommy. Without this character the film would be 1 hour and 24 minutes of pure depression, but his character comes in at the right time to add a bit of flavor. Cosmo does a wonderful job of bringing on the mean, but leaving just enough room for some emotional gold toward the end of the film. Wilson’s character Danny is acted so well that you literally get creeped out by this kid. He joins the ranks of Haley Joel Osmond (“THE SIXTH SENSE“) and Linda Blair (“THE EXORCIST“) as kids who manage to creep the living daylights out of me. Thank you for that, Jake.
Of course with great acting comes great writing and this movie is of no exception. Ciaran Foy’s near-poetic dialogue sways with ease to the rhythm of the constant tension lurking within every scene. All the characters were so rich and full of detail that committing to their story was no problem. The only problem I had was that I had to remind myself to breath, because this film left me with a short supply of air. The film was shot extremely claustrophobic at times with tight angles and slow movements. The lighting was natural and kept dark for the most part except for a few amazing winter landscapes. Films shot this well only exist on a plane of inflated budgets and celebrity egos, but CITADEL is meaningful without all the glitz and glamour. It is obvious that Foy cares engulfing his audience in a world of emotion instead of just creating moving pictures. Every aspect of this film was made to bring the viewer into this darkness and that’s why at the end of everything you feel wrecked. You feel like you just lived out your worst nightmares along with the actors on the screen, and as horror fanatics isn’t that what we want?
Overall the film created mass amounts of tension and provided an emotional joyride for its viewers. The acting was phenomenal and each player brought their A-game to the table. If you like your horror with heavy doses of realism and suspense, oh my GOD is it suspenseful, then this is your film. CITADEL on the festival circuit picked up some love at the SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST Film Festival by snagging the audience award, and it is currently screening NOW! If you are interested in seeing this amazing film and becoming a fear follower, visit their website HERE and catch a screening near you. For information and updates on CITADEL you can visit their Facebook page HERE or follow them on Twitter HERE. As always, fiends, be sure to come back here, for all your horror needs and the things that go bump in the night. Have a good weekend and remember… Feel the Fear… and let it pass…

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