Exclusive - Irish horror “Citadel” set to send chills down US spines - VIDEO
Irish writer and director Ciaran Foy chats about new thriller
In Citadel, the atmospheric new horror flick by newcomer Irish director Ciaran Foy, what we don't know can really, really hurt us.
Set in a grim council estate inspired by Northside Dublin but could really be anywhere in northern Europe, we meet Tommy Cowley (the doe-eyed Aneurin Barnard) and his heavily pregnant wife, who are about to discover that the local kids are genuinely unholy terrors.
Foy is a wunderkind graduate of the National Film School of Ireland, and Citadel is his attention grabbing debut feature. The film won the Midnighter Audience Award at SXSW, the prestigious annual film conference held in Austin, Texas, and I'm here to tell you it is creepy as all hell.
What's scarier than a bunch of creepy children? A bunch of supernaturally creepy children in hoods, and Citadel has them in spades.
When Citadel opens Tommy and his wife live a quiet life together in a falling down tower block, until the day the pair are inexplicably attacked by a group of hooded young thugs that kill his wife and leave Tommy to raise his newborn daughter alone.
Not surprisingly he's left broken and reeling by this turn of events and develops extreme agoraphobia. After that Tommy hides out in his new flat, safe from all real and imagined threats as he undergoes intense therapy sessions aimed at bringing him back to normal life.
But we all know he's not going to find a normal life until he finds out what really happened to him, and why. The question Citadel asks is, how you can you hope to protect your own child when you've become scared of your own shadow?
Foy was born and raised in Dublin and in fact still lives there. He knows the terrain of urban Dublin he's writing about.
“Yeah, I grew up in Coolock,” he tells the Irish Voice. “One day I was the victim of a pretty vicious and unprovoked attack when I was 18 by a gang of hoodies. They beat me with a hammer and threatened me with a dirty syringe.
“The scariest thing about it was that they didn’t want anything, they didn’t take anything from me. I was on the way home from the UCI (cinema) in Coolock when it happened.”
That changed you? It had to have done? How do you restore your faith in life after a completely senseless attack with no motive and no aim?
“Yeah, it left me with a trauma that eventually became agoraphobia (Tommy also develops agoraphobia in the film). I think when something happens, no matter how tragic or terrifying, when you know the reason behind it, no matter how insane that reason may seem - you can eventually make peace with it,” he says.
But life doesn't always give you that tidy option. Senseless violence is as least as common and people who have endured it can find it very hard to come to terms with it afterwards.
“It’s when you don’t know the reasons why and how. That’s the embodiment of pure terror. That's what I wanted to do with this film,” Foy explains.
When the gang of hoodies that killed Tommy's wife return, this time apparently intent on kidnapping his daughter, Tommy is torn between his paralyzing fear and his protective parental instincts. But was it his own attack in Dublin, or was he thinking of what could happen on any working class council estate?
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