The unlikely duo of an agoraphobic single father and depraved priest team up to destroy a group of demonic children that rule with carnage and mayhem the streets a destitute European city.
Directed By: Ciaran Foy
Starring: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wunmi Mosaku, Jake Wilson, Amy Shiels
Citadel, a low budget import from the Ireland plays heavily on the dramatic side yet as is equally horrific and suspenseful in many ways. We follow the person peril and turmoil of Tommy Cowley (Aneurin Barnard) who’s had to endure witnessing the murder of his pregnant wife at the hands of vagabond, feral children. Helpless from the onset of the brutal attack, Tommy watches in terror from the elevator as the love of his life is slain and deduced to incapacitated oblivion.
The use of darkness, light and shadow is utilized brilliantly from director Foy indicating that a most foreboding atmosphere can be created with a minimal budget. Sorrowful music accentuates the sensation of unease and despair. Perhaps the crowning achievement is the theatrical efforts of new comer Barnard. The range of emotion illustrated on his face makes the difference between a lack lustre production and an empathetic tragedy. He’s slightly reminiscent of actor Elijah Wood and I dare say every bit as talented. This actor has a bright future in any endeavor he chooses. We genuinely feel his helplessness.
There isn’t much in the sense of fantastical special effects yet it doesn’t hinder the overall product. We get a brief glimpse of the demonic children’s faces and its every bit as horrific as it is full of skin crawling grandiose. There is the occasional scene of brutal violence yet the camera captures the brutal disarray in stylistic fashion panning away from the action and concentrating on heightening the audience’s imagination.
Occasionally the plot slows down a little too much for my liking. One can appreciate the director’s attempts to focus on the dramatic elements. It’s a little overdone in a sense. Although we sympathize with Tommy’s character it gets a little annoying as he becomes a complete recluse refusing to stand up for himself and his infant daughter in virtually every circumstance of moderate threat.
Marie (Wunmi Mosaku) is a welcome distraction, the beautiful philanthropist nurse that takes Tommy under her wing. I feel her role was cut a little short however and think her involvement could have brought a little more to the plot. It seems almost bizarre and out of place her attempts at romantic interlude with Tommy and we are perplexed by its relevance.
Some immensely disturbing dialogue and performance is delivered from James Cosmo, who plays the fallen priest. You may recognize Cosmo from Game of Thrones and Braveheart. The Citadel franchise was most fortunate to have cast such a renowned, seasoned actor. Some of his bizarre utterings and rambling is at times a most welcome comedic relief. We find ourselves cheering on the inevitable union between him and Tommy against the very forces of evil that had spiritually crippled each to begin with. Jake Wilson who plays the blind dependent of the priest conveys a stunning performance. His involvement in the plot is as very crucial as the lead protagonist and the antagonist evil opposing. This young child undoubtedly has a brilliant future in cinema.
The set design within the final act of the dilapidated apartment building is brilliantly executed. A sense of desperation and ruin wreaks from the screen as the locale practically becomes a character within the plot itself. The plan devised by the priest and Tommy is worth the price of admission alone.
Citadel to date has received seven awards and two nominations including the Galway Film Fleadh Best Feature Film Award, Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Best Director for Ciaran Foy and Best Actor for Aneurin Barnard.
-Four out of Five Tombstones