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There are a lot of really great things going for the low-budget indie shocker "Citadel." This Irish film starts out strong, boasts a solid lead performance, and paints a harrowing portrait of urban decay. While the picture is very successful at creating a creepy vibe which it sustains throughout, I'm not sure that the mythology or storytelling is quite as strong as its atmosphere. In the end, I enjoyed much of the movie without really ever buying into its premise fully. And although the plot threads are deadly serious, I found some of the developments rather amusing as opposed to horrifying. In the end, I think "Citadel" is worth a look but I wanted its payoff and its explanations to be better realized. It's certainly not a bad movie, I just don't think it makes much sense in the grand scheme of things.

As I said, I really invested into the opening of the film. As a young couple is moving from a dilapidated building, a gang of street thugs happens upon the pregnant wife. A seemingly random act of violence will forever change our protagonist's life. Aneurin Barnard plays the husband and father haunted by this day. As he withdrawals from the world, plagued by agoraphobia, he is continuously threatened by hooded kids just like the ones that attacked his family. What do they want? They seem to be fixated on his daughter. But how do you protect your family when you are wracked by fear? As a psychological horror story, "Citadel" is actually quite accomplished. The arrival of the thugs is always spectacularly creepy and quite unpredictable. It makes the entire experience unsettling, which is surely what was intended. However, as the plot deepens, the more explanation that is given to what is happening--the less successful that I felt the story became.

When it was hard to gauge what was reality and what might be the madness, paranoia, and fear of Barnard's character, I thought "Citadel" worked. But as other characters are introduced, including a very unorthodox priest and a blind boy, the tale became much more convoluted. They try to explain the unexplainable, and that's what left me wanting more. And while the finale had some tense moments, this horror story is actually wrapped up pretty simply. As the credits rolled, two friends looked over at me and said "Well, that didn't make much sense!" And truthfully, I had to agree. I do think, however, that the filmmaker had a knack for putting together creepy scenes and that Barnard was fantastic. As Bernard slowly unravels and then picks himself up again, it's a surprisingly deft transformation. I'd would be interested to check out what both Bernard and writer/director Ciaran Foy have in store next. KGHarris, 1/13
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on February 3, 2013
I am assuming this movie is saturated with metaphors (or perhaps I am giving the writers to much credit), regardless, for the most part the nuances are so vague that I cannot come to any conclusion. The acting and cinematography was excellent. The scenery had such a deep feeling of misery, hopelessness and pain that I started to feel it myself. I got a sense of release for the father's agoraphobia in the end, but with no clear answers as to how the boy fit into it. It was such an abrupt ending that I felt cheated. I am seeing a trend with movies being overly subtle in their message for the sake of "artsiness", this is a disservice to most movie goers and in the end you end up with a piece that essentially means nothing to anyone but the creators themselves.
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on July 5, 2013
I love horror films that use real-world issues as their basis. A few days ago, I reviewed 6 SOULS, a dark movie that dealt with multiple personality disorders. Today I offer you CITADEL, an extremely effective trip into terror that uses agoraphobia (basically, the fear of going outside) as its foundation. Taut and disturbing, this film will take you to the edge of horror and then push you over.

This movie kept me tense and on-edge throughout its entirety. The aspect of Tommy's baby girl in danger along with him only made the movie more intense, and I actually had to stand up a couple of times while watching the film because I was so nervous. This is exactly the kind of reaction a horror movie is supposed to give, and CITADEL offers plenty of reasons to give them.

The film is shot well and the production value looks very high. It is a collaboration between Ireland and UK film companies, and every facet of the film looks excellent onscreen.

I am particularly impressed with the acting in CITADEL. Aneurin Barnard portrays the main character, Tommy, and does a stunning job in the role. His wide emotional range and vivid attention to detail are a sight to behold. He doesn't just play Tommy, he is Tommy. Also noteworthy is James Cosmo, the iconic actor who portrays the priest. I enjoyed his work in GAME OF THRONES and SONS OF ANARCHY, so it is a joy to see him here.

CITADEL is a huge win for me and I would wager any fan of horror and/or thrillers will enjoy it. Be prepared for a heck of ride, though; this is not a film that you can sit idly through. The film is available now, so give it a look for sure.
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There are a lot of really great things going for the low-budget indie shocker "Citadel." This Irish film starts out strong, boasts a solid lead performance, and paints a harrowing portrait of urban decay. While the picture is very successful at creating a creepy vibe which it sustains throughout, I'm not sure that the mythology or storytelling is quite as strong as its atmosphere. In the end, I enjoyed much of the movie without really ever buying into its premise fully. And although the plot threads are deadly serious, I found some of the developments rather amusing as opposed to horrifying. In the end, I think "Citadel" is worth a look but I wanted its payoff and its explanations to be better realized. It's certainly not a bad movie, I just don't think it makes much sense in the grand scheme of things.

As I said, I really invested into the opening of the film. As a young couple is moving from a dilapidated building, a gang of street thugs happens upon the pregnant wife. A seemingly random act of violence will forever change our protagonist's life. Aneurin Barnard plays the husband and father haunted by this day. As he withdrawals from the world, plagued by agoraphobia, he is continuously threatened by hooded kids just like the ones that attacked his family. What do they want? They seem to be fixated on his daughter. But how do you protect your family when you are wracked by fear? As a psychological horror story, "Citadel" is actually quite accomplished. The arrival of the thugs is always spectacularly creepy and quite unpredictable. It makes the entire experience unsettling, which is surely what was intended. However, as the plot deepens, the more explanation that is given to what is happening--the less successful that I felt the story became.

When it was hard to gauge what was reality and what might be the madness, paranoia, and fear of Barnard's character, I thought "Citadel" worked. But as other characters are introduced, including a very unorthodox priest and a blind boy, the tale became much more convoluted. They try to explain the unexplainable, and that's what left me wanting more. And while the finale had some tense moments, this horror story is actually wrapped up pretty simply. As the credits rolled, two friends looked over at me and said "Well, that didn't make much sense!" And truthfully, I had to agree. I do think, however, that the filmmaker had a knack for putting together creepy scenes and that Barnard was fantastic. As Bernard slowly unravels and then picks himself up again, it's a surprisingly deft transformation. I'd would be interested to check out what both Bernard and writer/director Ciaran Foy have in store next. KGHarris, 1/13
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on February 9, 2013
I fell under a horror movie high one day and decided to search for the best horror films of 2012. I clicked on various different lists and this movie was featured on nearly all of them. I looked at its IMDb rating and was disappointed with its low rating so I didn't really feel motivated to see it. But I was at Wal Mart and saw this movie there on sale and I just impulsively purchased it hoping the low rating was wrong. I am very glad I decided to buy this movie.

-Spoilers-
A young man is left widowed and damaged with agoraphobia after his pregnant wife is randomly attacked by a group of hooded kids. The baby is saved while the wife is left comatose for a few months until she finally passes. The young man is now raising the daughter alone in his panicked agoraphobic state. Then one day the hooded kids kidnap his daughter. With the help of a badmouthed priest and his son, he must rescue his daughter and learn the truth about these demonic hooded children.

Don't be fooled by the clichéd plot. This movie is one of the more original horror films in the past 10 years. Its a shame it hasn't found a decent release in the US. I'm sure if this was given a theatrical release during the Halloween season it would've been a decent hit. This is the second best traditional horror movie released in 2012 behind Sinister in my opinion. There is something just eerie and unsettling about this film. The terror starts off within 5 minutes with a heart pumping intro. Then the more dramatic aspect takes place for about 20 minutes so that we can get to know the characters. The last half of the movie is just genius horror film making. Sure many things are questionable about this movie, but who cares? Its a great spooky film to watch in the dark alone or with a lover or friends. The cinematography is very well done for a first time director. The directing itself reminded me of Danny Boyles '28 Days Later' in some aspects. The acting is pretty good for a low budget film. There are many scenes that are just perfectly executed even though some of the characters decisions are typical Horror movie clichés. There is a fantastically creeping scene on the bus that will surely stick with most viewers long after seeing this movie. The music is great like most horror films from Europe. The demonic hooded children are some of the scariest horror villains in a long time. Many old school horror fans will think of 'The Brood' when they see the evil kids in this film. But honestly these kids are more menacing and scary. The director is certainly someone to watch out for in the future.

Though the movie is not popular yet among US viewers since it has only seen a DVD/Blu Ray release without any advertisement, I think it has potential to explode in popularity. I do hope that the horror fans that appreciate true good horror will spread the word on this movie and help it become the cult classic it is destined to be. Hopefully the rating goes up. Trust me, this movie is one of the good horror movies. There is only one criticism I have for the DVD. There is no subtitle option, which is annoying at times since there are a few moments of dialogue that are hard to understand. Either way it's honestly worth a purchase or at least a redbox rental. Give it a shot if you need a fresh simple horror movie to scare you for the night.
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on September 9, 2014
Not bad of a movie at all. I'm not much on newer horror films I like classics and my husband doesn't like horror at all but we both enjoyed this movie. I like to read about movies after watching them and it makes it even more amazing! The whole film was shot with just a hand held camera (which you cannot tell at all) the acting was amazing and the story is actually based off a true story by the writer. He just made it into a horror version. Pretty amazing.
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Another week, another horror release. Isn't that the way it seems these days? Why, every time you turn around, some production company is throwing good money into some low-budget, no-budget scare-fest, all to make a buck. I welcome the additions to my film library only so long as these pictures still come assembled with a coherent story, reasonably intelligent characters (a tough find in horror), and modest quality writing. No, horror movies don't have to be perfect. They simply need establish a premise and then deliver on any promises made along the way.

To that end, CITADEL settles comfortably into a middle-ground and goes nowhere fast. Yes, it's atmospheric. Sure, it's creepy. Okay, it looks so dystopian.

But is that all ya got?

(NOTE: the following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you're the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I'd encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting of a few modest hints at `things to come,' then read on ...)

Tommy (played by Aneurin Barnard) enjoys a quiet existence with his pregnant wife in a massive apartment complex on the edge of town. Little do they know, but their CITADEL is actually some hunting grounds for a pack of ravenous children. A sudden attack leaves his wife permanently in a coma, and Tommy - left to raise their child on his own - is stricken with a case of agoraphobia. Nine months later, the gang returns and takes the man's child. Can he face his fears and join forces with an area priest (James Cosmo) to take back the child? And what secret is the old man hiding?

This is one of those times when I know I'll take a few on the chin from folks who disagree, but, if anything, I gotta be me; I found much of the CITADEL a disappointment. I can appreciate some quality scares as much as the next person. Where I differ (I believe) is that I want them delivered in a package that makes sense. Otherwise, I find the story and their resulting scares to be less than authentic. There were parts of the film that felt heavily truncated to me, such as why was Tommy so shaken up by his wife's attack that he developed agoraphobia? He seemed perfectly normal before the attack - he gets on elevators, he goes indoors and outdoors by himself, he came across as perfectly well-adjusted as anyone could be in those few moments of peace - so his transformation (while an impressive bit of acting) just felt hollow.

Furthermore, if (as we're told) these `creatures' are the result of some shenanigans done years ago by the resident member of the clergy, why did they take so long to prey on Tommy and his defenseless wife? Where were they before? What caused them to migrate to this particular building complex? And why did they give Tommy nine months off? I get that the place was, essentially, condemned and void of residents, but why did Tommy and his wife decide to stay in this urban wasteland entirely alone? And, if they were truly entirely alone, why was Tommy crying out for help when he discovered his wife was attacked? We were never shown any other person around - not in the building, not on the streets, etc. - so what WAS this place, really?

And, as long as I'm in classic harp mode, just what ARE these hooded gang/children? Clearly, they have some attachment to drugs (they're often seem with syringes), but, since the neighborhood is all but deserted, just who is selling to them? Part man, part creature, part cannibal, part addict ... and part nonsense! The audience is given some vague explanation of their origins by the Priest (actually, he gives two different versions, but I won't spoil it), yet Cosmo's line delivery is so awful I'll have to admit to listening to it three times and I still couldn't quite understand him. As I've had to say in reviews before, I have no problem watching foreign films, but I'd sure appreciate that producers include English subtitles because, as an American, I'll admit that I'm occasionally confused by accents. Cosmo delivers every speech as though he has a mouthful of Krispy Kremes, and this only adds to the confusion.

Still, Barnard gets some solid marks for doing what he could with the lackluster script. His struggle with an incapacitating agoraphobia is impressive. In fact, that's the only plotline of the film that gets carried through with solid development, though I still don't quite get how he developed it so quickly as a consequence of his wife being attacked. Color me naïve.

CITADEL is produced by Blinder Films, Irish Film Board, Flatiron Film Company, and Sigma Films. DVD distribution is being handled through New Video. As for the technical specifications, the film looks pretty solid - much of it is shot in dark settings and enclosed spaces (to enhance the agoraphobia) - but there were some issues with the sound - the opening is very sparse, but halfway through the levels suddenly jumped way up. (This may've been the result of some post-production tinkering.) The disk comes with a few special features - a `making of' short, cast and crew interviews, and some discarded B roll footage - nothing all that grand, but it's nice to have something.

MILDLY RECOMMENDED. It isn't that I disliked CITADEL because, in fairness, I didn't. What I found curious was the fact that there was so little to it - so little explanation for the development of our lead's condition; so little scientific explanation for where these `creatures' came from; so little character information available on almost everyone in the story - that I found it hard to sink my teeth into, unlike these cannibal/children/druggie/half-breed children. And, on that note, just what WERE they? When you have a monster, is it too much to ask that its creation make a little sense?

In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at New Video provided me with an advance DVD screener of CITADEL for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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on June 5, 2015
“Citadel” delves deep into the dark and sinister realm of social collapse. As a neighborhood goes through slow rehabilitation a twisted reality unfolds. Savage and untamed youths lay siege to a tower block in the community killing anyone who crosses their path and stealing the children. The story has a sort of melancholic atmosphere which pulls at your emotions as it draws you into the story. It flows from moments of casual melodrama and intense suspensefulness that makes most of the scenes feel for intense than they really are. It creates an almost nervous anticipation for during most of the film. It is a truly dark story which expresses a lot of emotion and desperation as a movie goer watching the story unfold that is an added bonus. The revealing cause of the vicious nature of the youths terrorizing the community is truly sinister but could have been played up a little more than it is in the movie. There is a slight imbalance between the slower more emotional scenes and the intense thrill scenes. However not enough of an issue to not find this movie pleasurable. It is disturbing and kind of twisted. I really enjoyed the more vulnerable and heartfelt approach to horror this film takes.
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on February 24, 2013
I enjoy horror movies and Indie films this is low budget but that does not mean it is bad in fact it is very creepy. A man who's wife lost her life to "children" in a rundown neighborhood and is agoraphobic protects his baby from neighborhood children or are they?
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on March 2, 2016
Truly enjoyed Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard's performance in this thriller - definitely a fan! Just the right amount of suspense in the film - it had me on the edge of my seat. The scenes of Tommy walking through the grim deserted council estate are very creepy and unsettling.
Citadel is a suspenseful yet also touching journey of how Tommy overcomes agoraphobia and tragedy (losing his wife) as he sets out on a mission with the priest and young boy Danny to defeat the group of feral children that attacked his wife and kidnapped his baby daughter Elsa. Through protecting young Danny, Tommy gains the strength to overcome his own fears. I look forward to watching more of Aneurin Barnard's work in the future - he's definitely one to watch.
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