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CITADEL (director/writer: Ciaran Foy; cinematographer: Tim Fleming; editors: Tony Kearns/Jake Roberts; music: Tomandandy; cast: Aneurin Barnard (Tommy Cowley), James Cosmo (Priest), Jake Wilson (Danny), Wunmi Mosaku (Marie), Amy Shiels (Joanne); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Katie Holly/Brian Coffey; Cinedigm Entertainment; 2012-UK)

“Quite a chore sitting through such a muddled downer.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Irish filmmaker Ciaran Foy, in his debut feature film,directs and writes an Attack the Block and Candyman wannabe psychological urban horror story that works its way through the dark hallways of public housing (shot in the seedy low-income tower blocks in Glasgow) and gets its kicks from a dirty syringe plunged into a pregnant woman’s belly, a possible slit throat and a hellish romp into mindless terror that might be only in the head. The ugly reality-based nightmare story on urban violence and on overcoming one’s fears, is quite a chore sitting through such a muddled downer. The story was inspired by a vicious mugging witnessed by Foy.

Meek Irish slum resident Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) is left with a baby daughter and a serious case of agoraphobia, after witnessing young thugs pummel his pregnant wife (Amy Shiels) in the hallway of their building while he’s stuck in a broken elevator and nine months later his comatose wife is taken off life support. The distraught widowed Tommy is comforted by sympathetic, bleeding-heart liberal, blackhospice nurse (Wunmi Mosaku), and he receives psychological counseling to overcome his imagined and real fears of living in poverty in a dangerous urban jungle. The stressed-out Tommy soon discovers these unsupervised anti-social violent youths, all wearing identical hoodies, have a strange history. When Tommy teams up with an angry, foul-mouthed, local vigilante priest (James Cosmo), somehow connected to the demons, and a mystic blind child (Jake Wilson) rescued from the violent teen gang, to go after the monsters who kidnapped his daughter in the abandoned housing project called “The Citadel”, planning to raise the baby to be like them. The humorless and senselessly violent film turns way too ridiculous to care about its resolution, as it’s revealed the hooligans might not even be human.The slight film wants us to believe the menacing teen villainscan only see humans who are afraid of them and all sorts of other blurry things it never clears up.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”