Citadel – Movie Review

Citadel played at Toronto After Dark 2012
Check out T-Mak World‘s full Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD) coverage and reviews here.
Oct. 23 2012 – WOW! Let me start off with what is usually reserved as the conclusion of a film review. Citadel is the best horror movie of 2012. It also won the best film at this year’s South By South West (SWSX) Film Festival for the Midnighters program. Now let me contain my excitement and start from the beginning.

The film starts with a bleak view of an an urban decayed apartment complex somewhere in England that would put the worst ghetto in the Bronx of the 80’s to shame. Reaking of bleakness the apartment complex is in stark contrast to a happy young couple who seem to be moving out of there. All bright and cheery we notice that the woman is pregnant. While stuck in the elevator Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) looks on in horror through the window as a group of hoodie punks attack his lovely wife. Tommy’s hopelessness is amplified as he eventually rushes her to the hospital and is handed a ray of sunshine in the form of his baby.

Fast forward 9 months and Tommy has a debilitating fear and unable to deal with being outside, but as a single father with bleak economic circumstances he has his beautiful baby girl at his side at all times. While the daytime is tough for Tommy it seems that night brings an elevated phobia and paranoia. As if on a delicate tightrope, we know that Tommy is a millimeter away from falling hopelessly into the dark abyss of his mind. While burying his wife (who eventually was drawn off of life support 9 months after the attack), the foul mouthed priest (James Cosmo) tells Tommy that they are coming to get his baby. That is the trigger that takes Tommy into the dark abyss with no light in sight.

Citadel played at Toronto After Dark 2012

The movie gives the viewer unrelenting tension. In fact it is 40 minutes into the movie before lets up on the tension with a light scene. Needless to say that does not last long as things get tense again very fast. In what seemed like a very prescribed rollercoaster rhythm the movie offers 40 minutes of major tension, 7 or 8 minutes of light relief, and then 30 minutes of extreme tension and scares. (Note – the film clocked in at only 80 minutes during its screening at Toronto After Dark). The overall vibe felt like a good Stephen King novel.
As Tommy loses each one of his safety beacons (his house, a friendly nurse, his baby, the priest) his fear grows exponentially. The hooded thugs turn out to be some form of evil “demons” and the only real weak point in the movie for me was the explanation of the inhuman creatures origin. The movie would have been way better off without the scene that haphazardly tries to explain what they are and how they came to be. The overall movie is so excellent though that I am willing to black out that one weak scene. The light of morning brings hope as the night before saw an epic battle of fatherly love battling human fear.

Citadel played at Toronto After Dark 2012

Aneurin Barnard’s portrayal of Tommy is one of the strongest acting jobs I have ever seen (horror or non). Oddly resembling Pink Floyd’s own madman Syd Barrett both in looks and aura of insanity, the 25 year old Welsh actor will have a very bright career in front of him. Guaranteed. 
This film won the people’s choice award at SXSW and deserves to also win the best film of TAD 2012.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5.  A potent film that is bleak, tense, scary and disturbing.  Horror is created by the human mind, and nothing can be more horrifying than a mind full of darkness and fear. Easily the best horror movie of 2012 and one that possibly deserves a spot on our list of top 10 horror movies of all time.
Toronto After Dark Film Festival runs from October 18 – October 26 2012.  Do NOT miss it! Info and tickets here. Check out T-Mak World‘s full Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TAD) coverage here.

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