Your wife has been murdered. Your baby has been kidnapped. And you're not sure if it's all in your head, or if demonic children who feed on fear really are responsible for it all. Citadel is the intriguing new movie from writer/director Ciaran Foy, and one of the more unique horror entries in recent memory.
Though to call Citadel a straight horror movie is a bit misleading. The movie is more a psychological drama with horror elements than anything else, as it becomes evident early on that the creatures the lead character Tommy sees are most likely manifestations of his mind. But as Tommy descends further into madness and then acknowledges he must face his fear by entering a rotting apartment building (the "citadel"), Foy manages to effectively draw the audience into his character's self-imposed terror and torment.
Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard delivers an emotional performance as the distraught Tommy, who, following his wife's death becomes agoraphobic. Tommy is a man literally trapped by fear, and Barnard properly taps into what makes the character tick.
Beyond Barnard's performance, the movie's atmosphere has a life of its own. Foy's brooding, often colorless settings and environments work well to establish the walking nightmare in which Barnard exists. The Citadel is grimy, gritty and dark, in all the right ways. The creatures - who appear as teenage hoodlums from afar but more like hissing zombies up close - are also handled well. They are frightening, but Foy shows restraint when using them directly.
The Citadel is a worthwhile horror movie that succeeds largely on its brooding atmosphere. Due to the psychological nature of the story and its reliance on subtle terror rather than overt scares, the movie won't appeal to everyone, but it is an effectively creepy and well made thriller.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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