List Film

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
  • 84 min
  • 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.


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