Bleak horror show 'Citadel' makes solo parenting a chore ★★ 1/2

  • Pin It

The Irish horror film "Citadel" makes solo parenthood an exceptional challenge, what with the mutant, hooded, devil-eyed, baby-stealing thugs running around some of the bleakest dwellings imaginable.

The writer-director Ciaran Foy shot his low-budget creeper in Glasgow, Scotland, and in various locations in Ireland, working with cinematographer Tim Fleming to create an atmosphere of cold foreboding. It begins with a young couple, the woman pregnant, in a grim-looking high-rise apartment complex. Out of nowhere the scurrying thugs in hoods attack the mother-to-be, while young, bug-eyed husband Tommy (Aneurin Barnard), trapped in a broken elevator, watches helplessly.

From there "Citadel" becomes a rite of bloody passage and trial by bloody fire for Tommy. The local priest (James Cosmo, perpetually raging) skulks around the corners of the story, intimating that the mutants will return for Tommy's infant daughter. They do. With the aid of a blind boy (Jake Wilson) who cannot be seen or heard by the enemy, Tommy attempts to conquer his crippling agoraphobia and save his offspring.

The filmmaker has talked about his own battles with agoraphobia, following a mugging when he was still a teenager. He has talked also about his admiration for films that aren't so much flat-out horror items, but more like dread-and-wonder stories, such as David Cronenberg's "The Brood" and Adrian Lyne's "Jacob's Ladder." His own feature is a little underpowered; and when we come back to the hellhole apartments Tommy and company must destroy, "Citadel" slackens the suspense rather than tightening it. Still, Foy's a talent, even if he has no shame when it comes to using a crying child to increase the dread quotient.

Twitter @phillipstribune

No MPAA rating (violence, language)

Running time: 1:24

Opens: Friday (through Thurs. Dec. 20) at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave.;

  • Pin It
Find it fast


Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up