Monday, 6 October 2014

Film #6: 'Citadel'

'Citadel' is a Irish horror film which it was a pleasure to watch. OK, 'pleasure' is definitely the wrong word given the subject matter and the subtext of the film, but I meant that I had low expectations for this film so for this to be a decent film surprised me.
The 1 star rating on Netflix, it should be said, isn't really an indicator of quality but considering some of the sh*t on that site some films REALLY deserve that rating, while others cry out for a zero star rating that Netflix won't allow - 'Citadel', however, does not deserve zero or one stars.

It was written and directed by CiarĂ¡n Foy, and stars Aneurin Barnard as Tommy, a man whose pregnant wife is attacked by a gang of hoodie-clad thugs, and left with a syringe jammed into her.
Time passes, Tommy is raising his child alone, as a nervous, paranoid wreck, haunted by the attack he was powerless to prevent. His wife is on life-support, but when this is turned off social worker Marie (Wunmi Mosaku) steps in as an emotional crutch for Tommy, and at the funeral Tommy happens to meet a priest (James Cosmo)

Every line of dialogue from the priest is gold - delivery, tone, pitch, words, James Cosmo is 100% the best thing about this movie.

The main character is Tommy, who has been left emotionally scarred by an attack his wife suffered. He sees groups of hooded figures everywhere, afraid of unfamiliar shadows, he is a recluse. When his home gets broken into Tommy goes off the deep end, boarding himself into his bathroom, and basically ready to turn his back on going outside forever.
Marie's response: The youths must comes from poor backgrounds, filled with hardship, they require sympathy. You're over-reacting.
The priest's response: Those kids are holed up in the building where you used to live and we have to burn that f**ker and everyone inside it to the ground!
Before reassuring Tommy that the building is condemned and abandoned, so it's completely cool to wreck that place.

The priest is introduced to this film as a tightly wound spring, and spends every second on screen pushing himself and Tommy to breaking point.

The film was written by Foy after he suffered an attack in his youth, and the result plays out like a suburban nightmare. Empty bleak residential estates, dark underpasses, being stranded by infrequent buses, these are all common settings but to an agoraphobic like Tommy they are blank canvasses for his fears and paranoia that he rushes through at a fast pace, constantly glancing over his shoulder.
Having been on the receiving end of and having friends be victims of random, unprovoked attacks this film definitely did a good job of getting that sense of apprehension of being outside across, before ramping it all up - turning the hooded 'youths' into mindless zombie-like ghouls - to full horror mode towards the end.
And there, towards the end, the film kinda lost me, the third act relies on the hooded menaces being seen up close and interacted with. The lead skulking around an apartment block with a torch didn't have the same effective creepiness as the rest of the movie, it didn't drag but there are .

The film received some criticism because of its perceived subtext/ text/ overtext of "youths in hoodies are bad, and cannot be reasoned with even by the most caring & well-meaning of social workers", which, yes, is a sh*tty message - its ill-timed proximity to the shooting of Trayvon Martin didn't help the film's reception at all. Hopefully that message wasn't the film-maker's intention though since this film plays out fully from a victim's point of view, and how they experience the world rather than how the world actually is - we never see him contacting the police for anything, and he ignores the advice of a group therapist to stop acting like a victim. OK, maybe victim blaming is a bad direction to go in too.

I'm just gonna bow out of any deeper discussion on this, stick with my point that the first 2 thirds of this film do its job very well, give the film that out, and run away.

Out of 10, I'd give 'Citadel':
'UUuummm, whatever you want to say, I'm not too pushed, so won't argue unless it's really low or really high' out of 10.

'Citadel' is available on Netflix UK & Ireland.

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