At first, Citadel seems like a movie like Heartless, in which hooded demons prowl London and are mistaken for thuggish youths. Or Cronenberg’s The Brood. Or the part of Don’t Look Now that you don’t really know about until the final “WTF!” scene. The basic idea is that little people in hoods are scary because you don’t know what’s under the hood. Consider Phantasm. Or jawas.
But it turns out that Citadel isn’t just a monster movie. In fact, it’s a better Silent Hill movie than anything with the words “silent hill” in the title. This is a character driven story about an unprepared father coping with fear, and the Father whose help he needs. Furthermore, here is a movie unafraid to play with children in peril and perilous children. You would never see this in a safely American horror film that only imperils people over 18. Thank you, Irish director/writer Ciaran Foy.
In the main role, the distractingly good-looking and Orlando-Bloom-meets-Harry-Potter Aneurin Barnard spends most of his time shrinking, usually with his eyes shut tight. Is it really a good idea to make your main character such a coward? Given the point Citadel wants to make, there’s no way around it. This movie has no interest in whacking zombies with a crowbar. And in the one scene where that happens, the crowbar is ineffectual. It takes a mirror to seal the deal. Get it? James Cosmos — you probably know him from Game of Thrones — is a welcome variation on the usual priest monster-slayer. With a tiny blind child in tow, Barnard and Cosmos make for a memorable monster hunting party.
Citadel isn’t as heavy handed or action oriented as I might make it sound. It lolls around for a while, as an arthouse horror movie will do. This makes the shocking moments all the more shocking. There are about three effective scenes here that any low-budget horror movie would be lucky to have. Which makes Citadel at least three times better than most low-budget horror films.
Citadel is available on DVD and video on demand. Support Qt3 by watching it on Amazon instant video.