First Glimpse: Citadel

Directed by Ciaran Foy

Release Date: 9 November 2012

Except for the nod we gave to the Italians for their contributions to the horror and giallo genres of the 70s and 80s, the horror industry was a fairly insular creature in America until Japan wedged a foot in the door. Maybe American slashers were finally becoming too referential. Maybe the preponderance of sequels and prequels drove us to solace from without our borders. Whatever the reason, within the last decade we’ve been treated to an international insurgence of excellent films from the aforementioned Japan, Korea, France, Spain, England, Australia, and Sweden. Ireland, fairly successful within the genre with films including Wake Wood and Shrooms, looks to be making a serious bid for notoriety with the unnerving Citadel.

Looking like a cross between Ils and The Horde, Citadel did well at the SXSW festival this year. The film follows Tommy, whose pregnant wife (I know. They’re always pregnant) is killed by a group of child-thugs. He’s left to care for his newborn daughter, but an ominous looking priest warns Tommy his daughter might be next to die. The tagline here is “They see your fear” and as our protagonist, the problem with Tommy is that he’s afraid of everything since his wife died. How is he going to protect his daughter?

Everything here from the grim priest, to the murderous children, to the scaredy-cat hero seems like it shouldn’t work, but there’s something about the trailer that has me excited to view this film. Let me say one thing: killer kids don’t work for me. I feel like I’m probably in the minority when I say this, but when I see a bloody kid hovering over a body with an axe, I think ridiculous… not scary. Luckily, the glimpses we see of the kiddie killers show us there’s something not quite right about these vicious little beings. Ireland! Please tell me you’ve made a movie about Redcaps!


By Kiki McGraw


  1. First, I would like to reiterate your comment on the great horror films coming out of Japan, Korea, France, Spain, England, Australia, and Sweden ... I am also going to add Thailand. Korea and Thailand, in my opinion, are the powerhouses at the moment; Japan losing its top spot.
    I believe very little of any substance is coming from america, and you pinpointed the reason eloquently - "Maybe American slashers were finally becoming too referential. Maybe the preponderance of sequels and prequels drove us to solace from without our borders" (let me add that the use of "zombiazation" for a good scare is becoming passe'). One word describes the condition of the american horror industry - Boring!. I believe there are the exceptions, as in the "Paranormal Activities", Insidious, Sinister, Devil (which I didn't expect very much from and ended up raving about), The Devil Inside (which I expected very much from, and was mildy disappointed, but had its moments), etc.
    I am going to throw a wrench into my comment. Forget the big screen for a moment - we have originality, pure horror (real and imagined), well-thought out characters with personalities that we love/hate coming to our living rooms every week in "American Horror Story", but that is another area for discussion.
    I have read about Citadel and seen trailers for it. This film is a must-see for me!
    You commented above that "killer kids don’t work for me". I feel the exact opposite. To me nothing is more frightening than the insanity of a child so evil, he/she can commit murder, as in these two examples dating back some 50 years: Village of the Damned, and the epitome of the demon killer child - The Bad Seed.
    I want to commend you on the choice of movies that you choose to watch, review, and recommend. This is the greatest site to get your horror fix. ~Lu~

    1. Thank you, Luann! "This is the greatest site to get your horror fix." This is probably the nicest comment we could ever hope to get!

    2. Hey Luann!

      I loved reading your commentary! I agree with so much you said and think that you brought up many good points about the state of the genre today.

      First of all let me say I love The Bad Seed! It really is one of my favourite old films despite the fact that killer kids aren't my cup of tea. I get that I am totally an outlier as far as that goes. (However, I think that horror, like comedy, is a genre that is so multidimensional that there is something out there that will make EVERYONE'S skin crawl no matter what their fear trigger is.)

      I definitely should have added Thailand to the list of Asian countries... we've started remaking their films as well! I think one of the problems with American horror film is that we do not have very much "original source material" to use. Asian, European, and just downright OLD countries have a HUGE well of traditional mythos to draw from... Asian ghost lore in particular is something very singular to that part of the world and it has done very well here.

      If you looked at a rough sketch of horror film in American since the inception of the moving picture, you'd probably see the Germanic immigrant influences at the beginning: your vampires, wolfmen, frankensteins, and a few "west-indies zombies" thrown in. Mid-century saw a shift toward the slasher cemented by Psycho and the somewhat unfounded reputation for serial killers.

      Before I turn this into a long doctoral thesis, I'll try to wrap it up by saying that American horror doesn't have established roots, but we are trying to grow them. There has been a slight shift toward using urban myths from our country, and I we would do well to INTELLIGENTLY develop them into film (Slenderman or the black-eyed kids tales that are cropping in the US are good starting points. Don't even get me started on the 4chan Smiley movie.) So we got stuck in a rut, but there ARE ways out! I loved Ravenous for drawing on the Native American Wendigo story... I wish screenwriters would delve into a few folktale books now and then... look up the story of the Burr Woman and tell me it doesn't creep you out!