Attack the block (2011)
Aliens & Hoodies are two words rarely used together in the same sentence let alone used to describe a movie pitch. Well be prepared to hear them a lot more now as thoroughly British horror comedy ‘Attack the block’ has just been released in UK cinemas. The brain child of debut writer-director Joe Cornish, of the Adam & Joe show fame. The film centres on the exploits of teenage gang leader Moses and his crew of would-be muggers who attempt to stop an alien invasion on their council estate high rise. Oh, and one of England’s favourite zombie slayers, Nick Frost is along for the ride to!
Its Bonfire night and all across Britain the sky is filled with colourful explosions and light, perfect conditions for alien meteorites to land on Earth unnoticed. Moses and his gang are in the middle of violently mugging a young nurse when they are interrupted by an E.T landing on a nearby car. Sam, the nurse runs to a nearby Police station whilst the gang capture and kill the mysterious creature. They take the alien cadaver to local drug dealer Ron believing that his ‘weed room’ is the safest place to store it until they can sell it. What they don’t realise is that the aliens kin are about to storm their concrete fortress whilst the Police lock down any chance of escape.
It’s not surprising that Attack the block has been compared to the likes of Assault on Precinct 13 etc but it’s the film’s script and frankly wonderful young cast that manage to keep the movie feeling fresh. The dialogue is razor sharp and packed with humour. Scenes like where a gang member hides in a bin and attempts to call for help on just a pound of caller credit had me laughing in my seat and showed me the kind of enjoyment I hadn’t seen in horror comedies since the likes of Tremors or Dog soldiers and of course Shaun of the dead. The majority of the humour is from new comer Alex Esmail but it is John Boyega who is particularly good as Moses. His broody performance helps give the film a serious edge to the lampooning and his steady path towards redemption is believable throughout.
Attack the block isn’t a particularly violent or gory film. The visual effects are suitably basic and generally work well. It deserves its 15 (R) certificate but from what I can gather director Joe Cornish wanted it like this. He is a self confessed lover of 80’s cinema and sought to make the kind of almost family orientated thrillers that don’t seem to get made anymore. Think Gremlins or the Gate and even the Goonies and maybe you can understand where I am coming from. That being said A.T.B is a little morally questionable given today’s problems with knife culture and gangs. I’m not so sure it’s politically correct to perceive chavvy hoodlums as have ago heroes but given the fun I had watching this I can accept it.
In closing I highly recommend Attack the block. It’s fresh & edgy approach helps to disguise its lack of originality and minor plot flaws. Full credit goes to all the young actors that carry the film and Joe Cornish for doing a fantastic job as director. He is a talent to look out for in the future. The soundtrack is also superb and the almost psychedelic electronica fits the action perfectly. There are minor issues but you will be having too much fun to care. The biggest problem this film has is whether or not American audiences will be able to understand the language. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this film is released in US theatres with subtitles.
8/10 Gavin Jennings.