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REVIEW – Citadel (2012)

September 25, 2013

Citadel_2FilmJuice have my review of Ciaran Foy’s debut horror movie Citadel.

Set on a council estate that might be in Ireland or possibly Scotland, Citadel revolves around a single father attempting to escape from a decaying council estate that is over-run with faceless hoodies. When the hoodies break into his council house in a bid to abduct his daughter, the young man turns to a psychotic Catholic priest who urges him to abandon all fear and compassion. Turns out the feral underclass are the inbred “dog children” of a pair of junkies and the only way to ‘save’ them is to murder them in an enormous gas explosion that will not only wipe the streets clear of impoverished scum but also allow the young man to become a real father.

The problem with Citadel is that, rather than seeking to examine middle class fears of a feral underclass, Foy treats these fears as entirely rational thanks to a backstory that deploys not only the language of class warfare as found in the pages of the Daily Mail but also fears of miscegenation, violence and unreasoning carnality that are common to pretty much every racial panic in recorded history. Much like Velt Harlan’s Jew Süss and D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, Ciaran Foy’s Citadel uses crude stereotypes to dehumanise and degrade whilst equating personal fulfilment and moral clarity with an act of grotesque violence against the dehumanised group. This makes Citadel not just ugly and reactionary, but downright fascistic in both its imagery and argument. To produce a film like this at a time when poor people are disproportionately subject to government funding cuts is nothing short of reprehensible.

As distasteful as it may be to make a film that dehumanises the poor at a time when they are being disproportionately targeted by government cuts, Citadel somehow manages to be even more offensive by virtue of receiving funding from government bodies such as the Irish Film Board and Creative Scotland. What this means is that while the Scottish and Irish governments may well have cut back on the amount of money they use to help poor people, they still found money to help produce a film that demonises the poor and advocates killing them all in an enormous gas explosion. How’s that for a slice of class warfare?

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