Gimme Some Oven

{in theatres} Citadel

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I am not a fan of horror, in general. I usually have to have it tempered with humor, theological themes and nice-looking men (Supernatural); post-moderned up with long character arcs and existential angst (Walking Dead); or girl-powered and meta’d Whedon Style (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cabin in the Woods). But when I was at the SXSW film festival this past March, I was trying to see as many movies as possible. And the last ones of the day are always scaaaaaary. I steeled myself and bought a ticket to the Irish horror film Citadel. And I’m so glad I did.

Citadel is a great example of using the right genre to explore the right theme. When critics say a film “transcends its genre,” that’s what they’re talking about. The filmmaker is using the genre’s rules to get at a larger message—one that resonates with a bigger audience than just those genre’s followers. Citadel is simply about fear and conquering fear. Of course, you are thinking, it’s a freakin’ horror film. But Citadel unpacks the fear theme very, very well.

The film follows the agoraphobic Tommy (a wide-eyed and compelling Aneurin Barnard) as he tries to protect his newborn baby. Writer and first-time-feature director Ciaran Foy wisely lets the audience wrestle with whether the nightmares Tommy sees around him are real or imagined and gives Tommy sidekicks (a compassionate nurse and a renegade priest) who argue for either side. Foy helps us feel Tommy’s terror deeply; he was agoraphobic himself and wrote the screenplay as a form of therapy. More than that, Foy is a very visceral storyteller. I was genuinely shaking watching this film, but I walked into the streets of Austin afterward feeling triumphant and light…not what I was expecting when I bought the ticket!

The film is enjoying a limited release in American theatres right now. If it’s in your town, go…if you dare.

gimme five

Good for: Fans of horror-with-soul and others willing to give the genre a try

Invite your: Friends who won’t mind if you clutch at them during suspenseful parts

Snack on: Nothing. You’ll be so nervous you’ll forget you ate anything anyway. (Project much, Sarah?)

Bring your: Ominous-looking hoody. (Check out the poster.)

Skip if: You’re just not good with scary stuff. Because this is scary stuff.

What’s the scariest movie you’ve seen?

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Sarah Magill

Sarah Magill has a full-time movie habit made possible by a day-time greeting card writing gig. She blogs at Gimme Some Film and is learning to write scripts and direct. She tries to balance her screen obsession with trail running, jazz singing, book clubbing, and hanging out with The Best Golden Retriever Ever, Copa.

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