Citadel is another one of the films I bought while scouring the Amazon lowest price Blu-ray list. As you can imagine, these films can be quite hit or miss. Unlike my recent Lost Treasure of the Grand Canyon review, I can safely say Citadel is far more intriguing and I would not be surprised if it is a favorite of a few.
The Movie Itself (3.5/5)
Citadel is a tale of two halves. I mentioned in my Stake Land review (two shameless plugs already) about giving the characters room to develop. While there is ample time allotted for that here, nothing really materializes for the first half. Our film starts with Tommy and his pregnant wife Joanne moving out of their condemned high rise apartment building. After he brings some bags down and leaves Joanne in the hallway, instead of sitting in the cab (much disbelief is needed to watch this, but then again that is a requirement with most horror films), he returns to see some scary children in the hallway walking towards her. In addition to her peril, the elevator door decides to stick. Tommy can only watch helplessly as they get closer and start roughing her up.
Joanne, of course, dies (after being in a coma for 9 months), but her baby, Elsa, survives. Finally, we get to present day, and Tommy is in the apartment with Elsa. Consequently, he developed agoraphobia from all the trauma he suffered. Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives the environment to be unsafe with no easy way out. The problem I have with this is, it seems to come and go to serve the plot and it doesn’t feel real enough. Tommy has trouble leaving the house and after they take Joanne off life support, even more strange things start to happen.
Tommy’s new apartment may not be be condemned, but might as well be. It is in a neighborhood with cars torn apart, the bus stopped going down there and he states the police wouldn’t come either. So we should not be surprised that this agoraphobic man is “flipping his shit” at night all the time. The scary kids show up and at one point even break in. Tommy is terrified and seeks the help of the hospice nurse with whom he has grown attached. Once we get past the first half, the film really amps up and gets into a rhythm horror fans will love.
The second half turns into a more standard horror film. Although I would hesitate to call it derivative or completely formulaic because it has its own flair. The children are done well and they tend to indeed bring some tension and creep. Tommy ends up teaming with a priest (James Cosmo, who also played and Irish priest in Sons of Anarchy) and a young boy to help combat the threat. We have seen it all before but it didn’t deter me from enjoying it. If you are not bothered by slow burn beginnings, then I would certainly recommend a look.
Visuals/Picture Quality (3.5/5)
A few of the scenes receive a yellowish or blue tint and become a little fuzzy where you can lose some detail. The dark scenes do tend lose a little clarity as well. However, when there is proper lighting, daylight or otherwise, the film looks good and becomes more than serviceable. Most people who buy horror films aren’t in it for the lustrous picture quality, nor do they expect it due to the budget. For the price of the Blu-ray, I don’t think there is too much to complain about.
Score/Audio Quality (4.5/5)
While many horror fans might not nitpick the PQ, it better have good or even great audio. Luckily, Citadel comes through with that in spades. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track provides full rear speaker sound throughout, booming bass, and crystal clear effects. It is a very immersive track and adds a lot to the tension and amps up certain scenes perfectly. There are no subtitles so some of the Scottish and Irish accents might be trouble for some, but I thought they came through clear and had no problem understanding all the dialogue.
Special Features (2/5)
Behind the Scenes Making of Featurette (19:07) The director Ciarán Foy talks about his inspiration for the film. Unfortunately, he was attacked as a teen by a random gang and that lead him to developing his own case of agoraphobia. Also, we hear from the crew. This includes Paul Hyett, one of my favorite special effects people and the costumes designer, composer, and some of the actors. If you like behind the scenes as much as I do, then this is well worth your twenty minutes.
Cast and Crew Interviews
- Director Ciarán Foy (32:42) The director goes more into his inspiration and about what got him out of it. He also talks about the cast and certain shots he wanted to do. If you really enjoyed the film and want to learn about how it came to be, then I would give it a watch.
- Anuerin Barnard (10:45) The actor who played Tommy, discusses his role and what it was like on the set. He also goes into what it was like having the director go through a similar phobia and how he was able to use his experience in his acting.
- Disc Art
- Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Runtime 84 Mins
Citadel Overall (3/5)
While Citadel may start on the slower side, it certainly ramps up and grabs your attention for the second half. Also, I wouldn’t totally discount the first half for some either. Since it focuses on Tommy’s state of mind, some might like the added look into his trauma. Personally, I just think they didn’t do enough with it and dragged it out instead of adding more depth to the story. The second half certainly checks off more boxes for the average horror fan with some action, gore, and amped up creepiness. The features, packaging, and picture quality leave a little to be desired, but for the approximately six dollar price tag, there isn’t much room to complain.