Sometimes a serious case of authenticity can take a basic premise and bring things up a notch. This is especially the case when the film in question is a genre picture – always a sure fire sign of ratcheting up the intensity. A new horror thriller infuses such a personal device by inflicting the lead character with a severe and crippling case of agoraphobia, all the while being terrorized by a gang of thugs outside that are out for blood – welcome to "Citadel."
Tommy Crowley is a quiet man who lives with his pregnant wife in a decaying apartment complex. One day she’s attacked by a gang in front of a helpless Tommy and left for dead. But while she does pass, Tommy is left alive with two things to take care of – his newborn daughter and an intense case of agoraphobia. He does go out occasionally to seek therapeutic help, but he soon finds that the very hooligans who killed his wife have come back to claim his child. So with the help of a vigilante priest who seems to know the secrets of the intruders, Tommy is left to face both his attackers and his fears head on.
Again, bring terrorized is not the most original premise in the world, but add to an effective affliction that prevents the hero from fighting back and its magic. And through both the pitch perfect performance of lead man Aneurin Barnard and detailed direction of writer/director Ciaran Foy, "Citadel" is a film that puts the viewer in an incredibly uncomfortable place – and leaves you there. Foy uses the madness of the mind to disturb here and the effect is raw terror that is a hard thing to come by in today’s slice and dice film world. The murky look of the picture also adds a layer of creepy, plus I adore the caustic priest played with gusto by veteran actor James Cosmo. (He’s like a cross between Brian Cox and Archie Bunker!)
I wouldn’t be surprised if the lazy Hollywood system decided to carbon copy "Citadel" and remake it, but in doing so it would miss the whole point of what works here. "Citadel" uses mood, tone and a realistic approach to embody a familiar tale of newfound terror. Stories can be copied – why they stand tall can’t.
"CITADEL" OPENS IN SELECT THEATERS NOV. 16 FROM CINEDIGM/NEW VIDEO.