Exclusive - Irish horror “Citadel” set to send chills down US spines - VIDEO
Irish writer and director Ciaran Foy chats about new thriller
“I feel horror films today explain too much. I wanted to explain nothing, because as I say that's the darkness. That’s the pure terror. Not knowing,” Foy says.
“But I eventually put some bread crumbs in there for an audience to dissect and hypothesize about after the film.”
Initially Dublin was Foy’s setting and ideal location. But because the Ballymun towers were demolished he had to look elsewhere. Glasgow turned out to be the perfect stand-in because it has a lot of abandoned tower blocks.
And what was the origin of these creepy supernatural kids in hoodies? Where do they come from and what do they want?
“I saw them as becoming this way because they had no guidance, no father figures. They're abandoned youth in way. A lost generation of lost kids,” Foy offers.
There's a political and social dimension to all that, and having growing up in a working class suburb Foy knows it. Social failure haunts every frame of Citadel. There's a breakdown in everything, social order, relationships, parenting, religion.
But Foy didn't want Citadel to just be about urban alienation, and he's not making sweeping statements about the kind of kids you can find knocking around tower blocks. Instead he's more interested in the society they reflect.
The metaphors keep building with the introduction of a rogue priest who knows the truth about the origins of the hoodie nightmare kids. He knows where they came from and he knows that he's implicated himself. So far, so timely.
Is Citadel in part a metaphor for haunted Ireland under the church's dominance? It hard not to draw that conclusion.
“Someone pointed that out back home. I honestly didn’t approach it that way,” Foy says.
“I was looking for all manner of fathers -- a reluctant father, a faithless father and absentee spiritual father. But it's really interesting that it can be seen that way.”
Foy knows how to have it all ways. It could be a metaphor for the sexual abuse crisis, and at times it is explicitly so, but he's after bigger answers.
“I initially wanted to take the usual cliches of the genre, which usually has a Catholic priest who has all of the answers to a supernatural threat. My priest is a faithless priest with no answers to a non-supernatural threat.”
The impression that won't leave you is how nightmarish and claustrophobic the world of Citadel is. Foy knows how to create a sense of menace in every frame, and as Tommy Barnard is an edgy bag of nerves looking for a way out.
You'll be gripped from the opening scene by this unusually thoughtful psychological horror film, which is a welcome Irish answer to the exhausted Paranormal Activity franchise.
“So many movies -- not just horror films -- I feel nothing watching, whether it's sadness or humor or terror or catharsis. I think people will feel something watching Citadel,” Foy says.
“They seem to anyway, whether I show it in Europe or the U.S. or South Korea. It freaks people out, but ultimately for me it's a story of hope and redemption.
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