Toronto After Dark – Citadel – Ciaron Foy

Monday night. Not only am I back to work but I’m doing double features all week too! Toronto After Dark tackled a couple of scary titles tonight with Grave Encounters 2 (really liked the first one, the second one did some world building but didn’t engage me and seemed to take too long) and an Irish horror-thriller called Citadel.

Clocking in at a brisk 84 minutes Citadel centers on Tommy played by Aneurin Barnard who witnesses a brutal assault on his pregnant girlfriend Jo (Amy Shiels) by a band of hoodied kids.

The assault is what triggers a dire case of agoraphobia, and he lives in fear every day of stepping outside of the perceived safety of his home.

Left only with his daughter, Tommy must try to not only cope with the loss of Jo but that the hoodies may want his little girl.

Set in a condemned estate, three tower monolithic tower blocks seem to stab the sky, hanging ominously over everything in almost every exterior shot of the film. Imposing and unnerving.

When a priest (James Cosmo) advises he leave the estate before they come for her Tommy’s fear gets the better of him, barricading himself and his baby, Elsa, in his flat’s bathroom.

He’s helped out by Marie (Wunmi Mosaku), a nurse at the local hospital and hospice. She aids with Elsa and also in trying to get him on the once daily bus off the estate.

It costs her, and even as he almost makes his escape, Elsa is taken and Tommy, the priest (who has a connection to the building) and his son Danny (Jake Wilson), who was on his way to becoming one of the infected creatures lurking under those hoods, have to go into the main building, the citadel, to reclaim his lost child and stop the hoodies before the infection can spread.

The film deals with themes of fear, the unknown, the fear of youth, the fear of parenting, all of them are at work here, as is the best answer – face them and deal with your fear.

It’s interesting that Tommy has to put his faith in Danny an almost hoodie, his very enemy.

I’m divided on the idea of the Brood-like children being something more than vicious kids. I think arguments could be made for going either way, but in the end, it works, and what they are is never truly explained leaving one to wonder what was really going on.

I very much enjoyed the film’s final act when Tommy goes into the Citadel, and in a get under the skin moment, he discovers a holding area in the basement filled with cages with transforming and transformed children.


Overall a great addition to the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, though one thing made me smile, and that was Tommy’s appearance, with dark curly hair plastered by sweat to his forehead and big eyes encompassed by dark circles, he called to mind a certain Hobbit in The Return of The King.

A tense ride of a film.

Find more Citadel here, on Facebook, and Twitter.

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