Attack the Block is an alien invasion movie with a twist. A sort of “you’ve come to the wrong neighborhood buddy” situation. And the hood is just as dangerous in England as it is in the good old US of A. Actually, the writer and director of this movie, Joe Cornish was inspired to make it after being mugged himself. During the robbery, he noticed that the attackers were just as afraid as he was. He knew that there’s good in them and that they’ve been dealt a pretty shitty hand in this life. Just like the youngins, we met in the French classic La Haine.
I have to admit I went into this movie expecting an updated version of all those eighties science fiction movies (who said Super 8). What I got instead was a very energetic action movie with aliens. Attack the Block is also funny featuring a cleverly written script and well-developed characters. Characters that are a product of their environment. So, this keeps things relatively serious, stopping the movie from becoming silly. They walked a fine line between social commentary and entertainment managing to balance these two aspects quite nicely.
Now, while we’re on this subject I have to say that I did hate most of the characters here. I actually cheered for the aliens to fucking chop them up. I don’t know what is it with these English movies featuring pesky teenagers but they struck a certain nerve with me. And just like Jack O’Connell did in Eden Lake, so did John Boyega here. Luckily, there were a couple of cool and likable characters that saved the movie. I especially liked Nick Frost as Ron, the weed guy, as you probably guessed already. I also want to mention a very stylish soundtrack that added a lot of energy to the atmosphere.
As a group of teenagers living in the blocks of South London is about to rob a nurse, a strange object comes crashing down from the sky. It hits the nearby car, enabling the poor woman to run for her life and leaving our young gang puzzled. They find a strange rock inside the car and decide to take it to a local drug dealer. However, what they don’t know is that these strange rocks have been falling all over London and that things are about to get much, much worse.
With a running time of just over eighty minutes, Attack the Block is a short and sweet affair. It’s visually appealing with solid special and practical effects. The alien design is also quite unique as it’s based on the aliens appearing on the sides of a Space Invaders arcade cabinet. Fans of the above-mentioned eighties sci-fi classics like Critters or Gremlins will like it for sure. Additionally, if you’re looking for something along these lines, do check a forgotten nineties gem, Shakma.
The story is quite a familiar one, with Skyline just this past year showing us what would happen if the aliens decided to go to Los Angeles. Although the people there weren’t as shifty and tricky as these teenagers. In terms of gore, there will be a couple of nasty scenes although I was expecting more from an R-Rated alien invasion movie. Still, there’s enough meat on the bones here to consider Attack The Block a successful debut for young Joe Cornish. I wonder what’s his next move is going to be.
Finally, I would like to mention the issue of teen violence in the UK, especially knife crimes. If you look at the charts, the picture is quite grim. And while deaths are recorded, a huge percentage of these attacks are practically invisible to the public. They’re not reported for various reasons and this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re wondering why is this happening, the answer is very simple. And it’s not video games, drugs, or anything like that. The reasons are purely economical and societal but I have to stop here before this turns into a preachy mess.
Director: Joe Cornish
Writer: Joe Cornish
Cast: Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Luke Treadaway, Leeon Jones