The Films of Ciarán Foy
Citadel (August 21/15)
Saddled with an almost nonsensical premise, Citadel slowly-but-surely squanders a promising opening to become a rather interminable thriller that feels endless even at 84 minutes. The movie opens with a seriously stunning sequence that holds a great deal of promise, however, as writer/director Ciarán Foy kicks the proceedings off with a tense sequence in which a man (Aneurin Barnard's Tommy) watches helplessly as his wife (Amy Shiels' Joanne) is attacked by a group of vicious youths. From there, Citadel segues into a slow-moving storyline revolving around Tommy's efforts at coping with a newfound fear of open spaces and his investigation into the mysterious nature of his wife's seemingly-inhuman attackers. It becomes more and more clear that Foy's ambiguous handling of the material cements Citadel's ultimate downfall, as it is, for much of the movie's opening hour, impossible to tell what's actually occurring and what's merely in Tommy's increasingly paranoid mind - with the cryptic vibe making it impossible to genuinely sympathize with the character's exploits and draining the movie's few tense moments of their impact. Foy's inability (or unwillingness) to establish the rules of this bizarre universe prove fatal, as the viewer can't help but question virtually every single element contained within the aggressively deliberate narrative (ie where are the authorities during all this? why do there not seem to be any other rational characters around? etc, etc). It goes without saying that the action-heavy climax fares as poorly as everything preceding it, and it's finally impossible to see how this subject matter could've worked in any context other than a very, very short film.
Sinister 2 (August 21/15)
Directed by Ciarán Foy, Sinister 2 details the horror that predictably unfolds as Bughuul decides to lay claim to a young boy named Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) - with the narrative following the first film's tenacious deputy (James Ransone) as he attempts to help Dylan's mother (Shannyn Sossamon's Courtney) protect her son from Bughuul's clutches. There's little doubt that Sinister 2 fares best in its opening hour, as the movie, written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, generally goes out of its way to continue the first film's storyline in an organic, believable way - with the relatively fresh, non-retread atmosphere certainly a refreshing change of pace from most repetitive horror sequels. The emphasis on Dylan's exploits as he becomes more and more intertwined with Bughuul and his army of children plays a significant role in the film's early success, while Ransone's character's ongoing investigation into the demonic figure's various murders is, for the most part, far more interesting than one might've anticipated. (It's worth noting, too, that the appealing work from both Ransome and Sossamon, as well as the chemistry between the respective characters, goes a long way towards elevating the proceedings.) There unfortunately reaches a point, however, at which Sinister 2 begins losing its grip on the viewer, as the film slowly-but-surely morphs from a spooky, mysterious ghost story to a disappointingly run-of-the-mill run-and-hide horror flick - with the progressively underwhelming atmosphere compounded by a seriously silly subplot involving Courtney's abusive ex-husband (Lea Coco, evidently channeling Tom Wilson's Biff Tannen here). The lackluster climax ensures that Sinister 2 ends on a rather forgettable note, which is a shame, to be sure, given the tremendous promise of the movie's initial stretch.