Starring Aneurin Barnard, Wunmi Mosaku and James Cosmo
Written and directed by Ciaran Foy
With the DLB about to become a father himself, the Irish horror film Citadel (which was mostly filmed in Glasgow) – about a single father trying to protect his infant daughter against evil – hit home pretty hard, even if its foundation is not quite rock solid.
Aneurin Barnard stars as Tommy Cowley, a young father left to raise his infant daughter Emma alone when his pregnant wife is attacked by a gang of hooded thugs in their crumbling council estate high rise. She is left comatose and he is left a single father crippled by agoraphobia. Tommy is helped by a caring (and attractive) nurse (Mosaku), but an encounter with a volatile priest (Cosmo) leaves him fearing for his and Emma’s safety as the thugs – who may in fact not quite be human – return.
Barnard is utterly convincing as the fearful Tommy. Beyond the makeup that makes him look as though he has not slept in a year, Barnard radiates sheer terror but also evinces a steely strength as a poor young dad who will do anything to protect the only family he has left.
Writer-director Ciaran Foy, making his feature debut, is smart enough not to reveal too much too soon. The nature of the hooded creatures that attack Tommy remains mysterious until near the film’s end, and Foy drops enough strange visual cues (empty buses, deserted streets, half-glimpsed horrors) to evoke Adrian Lyne’s classic mindfuck film Jacob’s Ladder. Things get a bit silly at the end as Tommy and the priest face off against a high rise full of the feral things, with back story filled in a bit too quickly by the priest, but the end result is mostly horrifying.
With its near-apocalyptic vision suburban blight and a creeping sense of menace, Citadel is one of most dread-filled (and least dreadful) horror films of 2012.
Citadel opens in Toronto at Yonge & Dundas, with more cities to follow.