Citadel (2 stars)


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.

Citadel Trailer (2012)


  • 2 stars
  • 2012
  • Ireland / UK
  • 1h 24min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Ciaran Foy
  • Cast: Aneurin Barnard, James Cosmo, Wunmi Mosaku
  • UK release: 1 March 2013

This combination of Attack the Block and Eden Lake features an agoraphobic father (Barnard) who must confront his fears to rescue his daughter from a group of feral hoodie-wearing children. The bleakness is quickly wearying though, and some scenes intended to heighten the oppression are instead clangingly unrealistic.