In NY theaters November 9th and LA theaters November 16th from Cinedigm Entertainment Group and New Video is the Irish home invasion horror Citadel (review), about a man protecting himself (and his baby) from group of feral children. The Irish/UK co-production is directed by hot new writer-director Ciarán Foy.
I recently hopped on the phone with Foy and we talked about his approach to the film’s look, the idea for the feral children and the all too real trauma that inspired him to write the film in the first place.
In the film, “The dilapidated suburbia of Edenstown casts a shadow over Tommy Cowley’s life. Trapped there by his agoraphobia since his wife was fatally attacked by twisted feral children, he now finds himself terrorized by the same mysterious hooded gang, who seem intent on taking his baby daughter. Torn between the help of an understanding nurse and a vigilante priest, he discovers that to be free of his fears, he must finally face the demons of his past and enter the one place that he fears the most…the abandoned tower block known as the CITADEL.”
The film is claustrophobic and has tragedy in its bones, and it also features these feral children. Where did all of this come from?
It came from things that happened to me. It sounds bizarre but I often end of describing the movie as half psychological horror and half autobiography. When I was 18 I was the victim of a pretty vicious unprovoked attack by a gang of youths who were wearing hoodies. They beat me with a hammer and held a dirty string to my throat. It was a horrible experience and the scariest part was they didn’t want anything and they didn’t take anything, it was just for kicks.
What that left me with was this trauma that actually became agoraphobia. To make a long story short what this is about my battle with that in some ways, my trauma and my nightmares. Infusing that with my love of genre films, Citadel was born out of that.
Would you say that this is both a creative and cathartic success or would you say that your catharsis took place beforehand?
I certainly found that the writing of it was where the emotional journey was. The shooting was chaotic, we had 23 days in the worst winter that Glasgow has had on record. So it was just this stressful chaotic military operation. We’d literally have time for three takes and that’s it, there was no sense of objectivity on the shoot. But the writing of it, to spend that time revisiting and bathing my mind in scenarios I would rather forget was extremely difficult. During the middle of it I honestly thought I was taking steps backward.
What was actually going on was that I was oddly sort of echoing the arc of the main character, which I didn’t know until the end. When I got to the end of the writing process I felt strangely empowered and hopeful. To hold it in your hands and to become master of your own creation, there’s a power in that.
For a film that takes place in such a drab location, it looks great.
I guess in terms of the overall look and feel of it, myself and Tim Fleming [the cinematographer] watched a lot of Polanksi and also I became obsessed with the rectangle. As an agoraphobic, a door is a shape that you can’t pass through. That shape became the tower block, the tombstone etc… we wanted to frame Tommy forever in rectangles so he was always a prisoner and then we free that up as we go on.
One of the things I found was that the more disorientated we made the viewer, you can’t say exactly where or when it is – I think it lends it that kind of weird “Twilight Zone” feel. So we just kind of ran with that and took inspiration from the real areas we shot in. If you go to that part of the world it’s almost always overcast and it gives you that unique kind of feel. I didn’t want to just copy other movies, I wanted it to have a voice of its own.
What do you have coming up?
Coming up I have a science fiction film that I’m just in the process of rewriting. Hopefully we’ll go in front of the cameras at the very end of 2013.
Can you talk anymore about it?
It’s something I really want to talk about but can’t. It’s set in a futuristic New York, I can tell you that much.