With ominous guitar chords, piercing shrieks and howls featuring heavily throughout, Citadel is uncomfortable viewing at the best of times. The film opens with a bleak exterior shot of the high-rise council flat in which an expectant mother has a syringe thrust into her belly less than five minutes later; its mood rarely lightens from this point on. Grim as many such scenes are, however, it’s only when Ciaran Foy’s debut veers perilously close to acting as a right wing parable for ‘Broken Britain’ that it starts to truly challenge its audience.
In the wake of his wife’s fatal assault, Aneurin Barnard’s once fresh-faced protagonist develops Pete Doherty’s pallid complexion and struggles on as an agoraphobic single father, all the while facing constant harassment from her killers. These antagonists are essentially feral zombie-approximations of the disenfranchised, hoodie-wearing youth of today, who James Cosmo’s ‘Chavfinder General’ character insists are a cancer that must be cut out of society for good.
The film’s pretty repugnant if taken as social commentary, but plays with contemporary fears and anxieties incredibly effectively. It’s well paced, suspenseful, solidly cast and imbued with an eerie sense of desolation most likely the result of it having been shot on a shoestring budget.