Citadel (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byCiaran Foy
Produced byKatie Holly
Brian Coffey
Written byCiaran Foy
StarringAneurin Barnard
James Cosmo
Jake Wilson
Wunmi Mosaku
Music bytomandandy
CinematographyTim Fleming
Edited byTony Kearns
Jake Roberts
Blinder Films
Citadel Films
Release date
  • 11 March 2012 (2012-03-11) (South by Southwest Film Festival)
Running time
84 minutes

Citadel is a 2012 Irish psychological horror[1] film written and directed by Ciaran Foy, in his feature film debut. It was filmed in Glasgow, Scotland. The film stars Aneurin Barnard as Tommy, a widower who must raise his baby alone after an attack by a gang leaves his wife dead and him suffering from agoraphobia. It is an example of "hoodie horror".[1]


Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) and Joanne (Amy Shiels), who is pregnant, live in a dilapidated apartment complex. One day, when Tommy is in an elevator, Joanne is cornered by a group of teenagers, all wearing hoodies. Tommy watches helplessly as the gang attack his wife, desperately trying to exit the elevator. He finds her beaten, with a syringe in her stomach. In a flashback at the hospital, Joanne survives and gives birth to Elsa (Harry Saunders), a healthy girl. However, Joanne remains in a coma for several months, eventually being taken off life support. Grief-stricken, Tommy is consoled by a friendly nurse, Marie (Wunmi Mosaku), who attempts to help him with his agoraphobia, the result of his traumatic experience.

At Joanne's funeral, Tommy meets a foul-mouthed priest (James Cosmo) who warns him that the gang will be back for his daughter. The next day, several kids in hoodies break into his apartment and ransack the place, apparently looking for his daughter. Tommy, desperate for help, calls Marie, but the call is disconnected before he can explain the situation. Marie finds Tommy barricaded in his bathroom, wielding a hammer. Trying to calm him down, Marie disputes that the same gang were looking to kidnap his daughter, instead suggesting that he's simply the victim of two random, violent attacks by different groups of teenagers. Unconvinced, Tommy demands to see the priest again, and Marie offers to help.

The priest wants to destroy the apartment complex, which he says has become a nesting place for creatures that are no longer human. Blind and feral, they feed on fear, kidnapping children and turning them into creatures like themselves. Danny (Jake Wilson) was partially transformed, before the priest rescued him. Danny, though blind, can sense fear and protect others from being detected. Overwhelmed, Tommy refuses to help the priest and returns to Marie's apartment. Marie doesn't believe the story either, and she expresses empathy toward the youths, saying that they need someone to care about them. The next day, Tommy and Marie take walk in a bad part of town and are confronted by teenagers in hoodies. Marie attempts to reason with them, but they kill her. Tommy attempts to flee, but they kidnap Elsa.

Desperate to save Elsa, Tommy demands help from the priest. Reluctantly, the priest agrees to help Tommy, but only if Tommy will help blow up the apartment complex. They proceed to wire the complex with home-made explosives, but Tommy separates from the others, when he hears a baby crying. It turns out to be a trap, but the priest sacrifices himself to save Tommy and Danny. Before he dies, the priest reveals himself as the father of the original infected kids. Tommy and Danny make their way to the basement, where they find Elsa and many other children in cages. Danny, scared, reveals that he never had the power to protect anyone, but Tommy leads them to safety. They watch from afar as explosions go off, destroying the complex.



Writer/director Ciaran Foy based the film on his own experiences, including an attack by youths in hoodies, who threatened him with a dirty syringe. The youths did not steal anything from him, leaving him confused as to their motivation. Foy was left agoraphobic by the experience, using the film as a method of catharsis.[2]

Foy was influenced by Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, Adrian Lyne, and Chris Cunningham.[2]

Production took five years to get off the ground.[1] Shooting took place in Glasgow, Scotland.[3]


Citadel received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 55% based on 40 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10.[4] On Metacritic it has a 62/100, based on 13 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[5]

In a mixed review, Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times said the film "occasionally veers into ludicrousness" and has an "atavistic pulse".[3] In a negative review, John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter cited the overtones of class warfare and poor timing, given the shooting of Trayvon Martin.[6]

In a more positive review, Roger Ebert rated the film 3 out of 4 stars, citing young people in hoodies as being inherently scary.[7] In another positive review, Noel Murray of The A.V. Club compared it to Roman Polanski's Repulsion, calling Citadel "a bare-bones man-against-his-worst-fears white knuckler, shot through deep, menacing shadows."[8]


  1. ^ a b c Turek, Ryan (8 November 2012). "Shock Interview: Citadel Director Ciaran Foy". Shock Till You Drop. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b Gardner, Dana (21 November 2012). "Interview: Talking 'Citadel' With Director Ciaran Foy". Latino Review. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b Catsoulis, Jeannette (8 November 2012). "'Citadel,' Directed by Ciaran Foy". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Citadel (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Citadel". Metacritic. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  6. ^ DeFore, John (11 October 2012). "Citadel: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Citadel". Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  8. ^ Murray, Noel (15 November 2012). "Citadel". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 31 May 2013.

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