CITADEL is a relentlessly grim story of a single father with a baby (Jesus wept) who is crippled by fear and living on an estate so vile, you’d probably rather take your chances in a Chernobyl bedsit. And I thought this had some really sharp edges in its depiction of urban hopelessness, youth gang culture, poverty, recreational violence, victimhood, and the continual grip of fear above all else. Two really strong lead performances from Aneurin Barnard and James Cosmo on a superb series of sets – I could almost smell the piss and dead mice in the tower block stairwells. The little baby was also a star, though some of his scenes made me very uncomfortable (exactly the point). Watched the interview with director/writer Ciaran Foy afterwards and wasn’t at all surprised to hear he’d been a victim of random violence and suffered from agoraphobia for years. The paranoia and fear in this film was disturbing because of its authenticity, and I think the director plugged his memory and imagination straight into the mains. Very brave film for him to make and had what Eden Lake was missing for me. Probably my fave Brit horror film (Irish and Scottish) since KILL LIST and THE AWAKENING. Reminded me of TRAIN SPOTTING a bit too, but stripped of any Cool Britannia chic and humour and replaced with a grueling monotone of despair. Yes, I could pick holes, mostly with a long last act that was begging for some REC I and II stylings, but I won’t pick too much because of the way the tone and themes were sustained. I’ll always take a film that requires stamina over one that doesn’t.
Not dissimilar to CITADEL, THE TALL MAN is another horror film (or is it something else disguised in the shell of a horror film?) that also benefits from a great set and focusses on dead towns, missed childhoods and missing children, lost generations, but in small town US. It’s made by Pascal Laugier (who made one of my absolute faves, MARTYRS). For the entire first half I thought it looked nice but was nothing more than a generic thriller (and an odd tribute to JEEPERS CREEPERS), and I wondered what all the fuss was about. By the time the film finished I’d been red herringed and no longer thought it was average at all. If I said anything else I’d slip on a spoiler. Another keeper. In fact, I already want to watch it again.