It is the often unfortunate obligation of a movie critic to observe, analyze, and ultimately pan a great deal of different low budget productions. There are film festival productions in the thousands, ranging in quality from mediocre to horrible, and one is often inclined to wonder how they ever made it onto a popular film medium such as Netflix in the first place.
For my part, I have always felt as though horror movies are the best of the low budgets. Not necessarily because of quality, but because the standard that the modern genre has set is so low, that it can be surpassed by any amateur filmmaker with a plot, an idea, and the need to substitute the gore and special effects of high budget 3D blockbusters with something actually legitimately psychologically scary. It is difficult to make people laugh, but in this day and age of violent video games, the SAW and Final Destination series, the masses have become more and more numb to violence, and the challenge of scaring them becomes a much more daunting one.
When I stumbled across Citadel, I was guilty once again of judging a book by its cover. I was, for once, rewarded with one of the best low budget films I have ever seen in my life. The acting, though limited to a few characters, was superb in its quality-over-quantity approach. A young father, who is subject to crippling panic attacks and overwhelming paranoia is harassed, assaulted, and has his life torn apart by a group of feral demon-children who live in the broken down neighborhood he calls home. The residency is almost uncannily creepy, channeling dismal U.K. appearances bordering on Children of Men-esque ravaged dystopian environments.
The fear felt by the protagonist will quickly be shared by the audience, as the struggles of a young man with little to no parenting experience trying to protect his infant daughter against an onslaught with little in the way of outside aid is a relatable, if not allegorical theme. The Agoraphobia is felt through the characters, through the camera and the method of shooting, right into the eyes and minds of the viewer. One of the typical problems with modern horror films in the incapability of the viewer to relate with any of the characters, however this should not be the case here.
The soundtrack is modest, adding only occasionally to an atmosphere that needs little help in the effort to be creepy. But the cinematography is what really makes it worth a watch. The shots are creative, often extended, and show the work of a director who has not become complacent with the typical mainstream Hollywood standard. This effort, combined with the outstanding visuals and acting performances make this a horror film not to be soon forgotten. Remember, horror films are not for everyone, but if you’re the sort of individual who likes to get shaken out of your typically insipid comfort zone, this one is for you.