How the Citadel director's real-life agoraphobia turned into a horror movie

Illustration for article titled How the Citadel director's real-life agoraphobia turned into a horror movie

The Citadel director Ciaran Foy was attacked by a pack of 14-year-old kids and beaten with a hammer. Afterwards Foy found it difficult to leave his own home. He couldn't even get past his own front door. Years later, Foy has turned the crime into a pretty kickass horror movie about packs of crazed feral teens who roam the UK streets looking for more babies to add to their brood. We spoke with Foy about making movie monsters out of his real life horror story.


Do these creatures from your movie have an official name? I know they used to be human, but when they change do they have a different name? Did you plot out a backstory for them?

Ciaran Foy: I had a whole backstory written out for them, because I felt it was important for the writer, at least, to know where they came from. And how they operated and all that kind of stuff. But later I than began a process of peeling back what information I gave. As a film fan I think most horrors give away too much these days. And I wanted to leave some bread crumbs so people could make their own hypothesis when they left the movie. I didn't want to have it all packaged with a nice bow. Because when that happens to me I instantly forget about the film.

In the backstory and in the script they were called "the hoods" and that kind of didn't make any sense to anyone so they became the feral kids.

Illustration for article titled How the Citadel director's real-life agoraphobia turned into a horror movie

What are the rules with these creatures? I know they're blind and they can sense fear, but what other rules must they abide by?

Not really. In reality they're just a manifestation of a metaphor of something that happened in my own life. But in the movie real life, they hunt in packs to propagate themselves. They kidnap young children, the younger the better. They sort of raised them the way they were raised in cages in the basement. Originally I had it that there was a strange fungal infection in the tower they lived in. And that they were all addicted to the fungus. Which is what they're injecting the kids in the cages with in the syringes. That was what was mutating them. Originally that was explained in the film, but it was more creepy watching an edit with one of the feral kids licking the walls. And you're not quite sure why he's doing it.


I was attacked by a gang of youths when I was 18 that left me with agoraphobia. But the scariest thing for me was that they didn't take anything, they didn't want anything. There was no rhyme or reason as to why it happened. I think when you know why something happens, you can eventually make peace with it. But i think when you never know how or any of those things. To me, that is the fundamental of terror.

How similar was your experience with agoraphobia and what the character went through in this film?


Well it's kind of in many ways the first half of the film is very personal. After the attack, I was 18 still living at home with my parents, the front door became the biggest challenge for me. I guess it symbolized the one threshold I couldn't pass. I couldn't even bare to think about walking outside let alone actually doing it. It became (I know it's cheesy) but it became this Kubrick striation of death. That rectangular shape became a terror block. The tombstone. And in the movie we wanted to keep Tommy (the main character) framed and somehow always being attacked by rectangles.

So from that standpoint, feeling that sense of complete weakness. I can't even open the front door. I should be able to face the world, what is wrong with me. It's complete irrational fear. For me it was irrational fear coupled with the real fear of what was waiting outside. And the fact that the guys who attacked me were still roaming the streets. From that standpoint, it's very real.


Citadel will be opening in select theaters beginning November 9th.


Wayne Talbot

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie two weeks ago at the annual Dublin Horrorthon. Its brilliant. Ciaran did a Q&A afterwards, turns out he was attacked just around the corner from where I live which made the whole story that little bit freakier for me. If you get a chance to check this out do so its a great movie with some brilliant performances.