In the UK, the hoodie has become a symbol of disenfranchised youth. Gangs of hooded youth gather in Britain’s impoverished areas and can be quite frightening to come across. Citadel was inspired by a true incident, in which director Ciaron Foy was attacked by Hoodies, which results in what is easily the most tense and frightening film of this year’s Toronto After Dark film festival.
The film focuses on a man named Tommy (Aneurin Barnard), whose pregnant wife was attacked by a gang of Hoodies, as they prepared to move out of their old tower block. Months later, Tommy is suffering from agoraphobia, as a result of the attack, and struggles to be a good father to his baby daughter Elsa. His greatest fears soon come to fruition, as the Hoodies return and make Elsa their target.
Citadel is one of those horror films that relies more on a strong sense of tension, rather than cheap jump scares. The Hoodies have become Tommy’s greatest fear, but it is his very fear of them that leads them towards him. Through the help of a foul-mouthed renegade priest and a creepy blind boy named Danny, Tommy learns that the Hoodies are supernatural beings that are attracted to your fear. In effort to stop them, Tommy and the priest returns to Tommy’s old Tower block, which the Hoodies have completely taken over.
Even before their supernatural aspect are revealed, I thought the Hoodies were quite terrifying. Often they are just seen standing in place until they sense someone’s fear, at which time they will suddenly attack with an ear-piercing scream that will stay with you long after the final credits have rolled.
The film meanders a bit in the second act, as the focus seems to move towards Tommy’s relationship with a kind nurse named Marie, who is trying to help Tommy overcome his fear and become a better father to Elsa. However, the film quickly regains its footing for a very strong and frightening final act.
Overall, I thought that Citadel was a very tense and quite effective horror film. It takes the very simple premise of being scared to walk alone at night and turns it into something quite terrifying.9 | REALLY LIKED IT