Friday, November 29, 2013

336 Days 'til Halloween...

Scare o' the Day!

Friday Night Thriller Theater

Every Friday, I'll be recommending a scary movie that's available to stream from NetFlix! 


This week, I watched Citadel, a 2012 title from Irish filmmaker Ciaran Foy.

Citadel stars Welsh actor Aneurin Barnard as Tommy, a young father who has become almost paralyzed with agoraphobia since witnessing a gang of children brutally attack his pregnant wife in their dilapidated old apartment building. Tommy's child, Elsa, survived the attack, but his wife was left on a respirator.  Now, broken and terrified, Tommy must somehow raise his daughter, alone.  A daunting task, made further complicated by a foul-mouthed priest, played by Scottish actor James Cosmo, who tries to convince Tommy that the children who attacked his wife aren't quite human... and are now coming after Elsa.  

Citadel is a smart horror film, and I'm always a sucker for smart. Ciaran Foy served as both writer and director on the project. He shared that one of the influences for Citadel was his own experience with agoraphobia after an unprovoked attack in a car park left him housebound for four months when he was 18 years old.

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by panic attacks which are induced by the inability to escape situations that involve wide open, or crowded, spaces. 

Citadel does an excellent job in first explaining what's happening with agoraphobia in psychological terms. Then, it really twists the knife and makes you feel it. This helps the audience connect with and feel empathy for Tommy, who appears wholly unable to escape his terror.

Another tactic Foy uses to connect us with Tommy and make us feel his fear is by using a dull-grey and drab-white color palette in the film.  It makes the cold and desolate urban landscape Citadel is set in not only oppressive, but also heightens the sense of loneliness and isolation that Tommy must feel.

The only warmth and beauty in the film, and subsequently in Tommy's life, come in the form of Citadel's principle female characters: Tommy's wife Joanne (Amy Shiels), infant daughter Elsa, and sympathetic nurse, Marie (Wunmi Mosaku). Their importance is so heightened in Citadel that when they are placed in jeopardy, the audience also shares Tommy's sense of desperation and panic.

Foy injects a bit of myth into Citadel, as well.  Since Theseus fought the Minotaur in its Labyrinth, heroes have had to face and overcome their fears by confronting monsters in their lair.  So must Tommy in Citadel. His survival, and that of his daughter, depend upon it.

You'll be rooting for him.




Happy Halloween!!