Sunday, 14 July 2013



This low-budget British-Irish urban hoodie horror looks to have dropped into cinemas out of nowhere. I don't recall seeing a tweet about it (at least on my relatively modest timeline), and I certainly didn't see a poster at the 16-screener where it suddenly showed up on the schedules. While that might have harmed its box-office chances in terms of audiences actually being aware of its existence - and opening the same day as Pacific Rim probably wouldn't help either - it's rather nice to be able to discover a film for yourself rather than being ushered relentlessly towards it by the marketing and publicity people.

In the same sort of vein as Eden Lake and Community, Citadel is set in the kind of urban wasteland in desperate need of the regeneration and renewal it will never actually get. The police can't be bothered going out there anymore and there's only one bus per day: it's a hellscape of hideous tower blocks, shabby houses, burnt out cars left in the streets, feral hooded kids rampaging unhindered - even to a violent and pointless attack on Tommy's heavily pregnant wife, leaving her comatose. Miraculously, the baby survives, but the evil kids soon seek to steal her away to the now-abandoned tower blocks awaiting demolition. Tireless nurse Marie believes they're just neglected and unloved (a naive delusion that doesn't pan out well), but a foul-mouthed priest (James Cosmo) knows exactly what they are and how to deal with them; can Tommy overcome his agoraphobia and trauma and rescue his stolen daughter?

It's certainly got the grim and depressing urban squalor down; it makes Harry Brown look like The Great Gatsby. There's no blatant political finger-pointing even though it's located squarely in the middle of Broken Britain: abandoned people in an abandoned land. And I like that there's enough explanation for why the kids are the way they are, without it going down the Daily Mail's patented Hoodie Scum lamentations, while still keeping the exact nature fairly vague. Neatly, while the priest initially refers to them as demons, Marie wishes the rest of society wouldn't demonise them - yet they turn out to be neither demons nor mere hoodie scum. Pulled together on tiny resources (there are only four significant speaking roles) and resolutely glum, it's nicely enough done, with a few moments of raw, nasty horror towards the climax when the nature of the hooded hordes is made clearer. Not brilliant, but certainly worth seeing.


No comments: