Bleak and morally dubious ‘hoodie horror’ set in Glasgow high rises
The ‘hoodie horror’ subgenre can be neatly summed up as the Daily Mail’s favourite nightmare: good, honest (almost invariably white) folks terrorized by gangs of feral (almost invariably multi-racial) urban youths. 2008 horror Eden Lake and the Michael Caine-starring 2009 thriller Harry Brown are the genre touchstones to date; among their dubious number we can now also count Ciaran Foy’s Glasgow-set Citadel.
Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) lives in fear on a council estate, scared to go outside ever since his pregnant wife Joanne (Amy Shiels) was attacked and rendered comatose by a group of hooded, faceless youths. Torn between the stabilising influence of community care nurse Marie (Wunmi Mosaku) and a local fire-and-brimstone preacher (James Cosmo), he eventually sides with the latter in a plot to bring down the fiends’ lair: a condemned high rise.
Foy employs some neat tricks to begin with: three tower blocks form a striking, ominous visual motif, replicated in Tommy’s flat number (111); and the muted clouds-and-concrete palette is suitably dismal. This bleakness is quickly wearying though, and some scenes intended to heighten the oppression (particularly one in which Tommy is hectored by the leader of a group therapy session) are instead clangingly unrealistic.
It’s possible that Foy’s repugnant portrayal of Citadel’s schemie antagonists is just a result of mishandled satire: James Cosmo’s foul-mouthed bible-basher is overdrawn to the point of caricature, and one character’s grisly end comes with a strong whiff of irony. If this is the case, then Foy is innocent of being a right-wing standard-bearer – but irredeemably guilty of making a shoddy, muddled film.
Limited release from Fri 1 Mar.