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film review: attack the block

From the makers of the UK TV Series, Misfits comes the film Attack the Block - a sci-fi/thriller/monster flick set on a council estate in South London. It essentially plays out as a series of battles between the classes; the inner city and outer-space; and the well-trodden terrain of human versus alien saga.

Joe Cornish’s directorial debut begins much like the first episode of the aforementioned show. You have some scumbag teens acting hard with their hoodies, trackies and gear. But while they’re proving how tough they are by mugging a poor woman named Sam (played by Jodie Whittaker), they are interrupted by a mysterious, alien invasion. Tensions mount and suspense litters this tight, 88 minute film. As things progress we learn more about the invaders and the gang (which is lead by the suitably cast John Boyega as Moses), who eventually band together with their initial victim to defend their ‘quote unquote’, turf.

The group are atypical heroes. Some people will write them off for being stoner chavs or because they are miscreants that sunk low to mug the defenseless Sam. You’ll certainly hate them in the opening scene but they do become the “good guys” and attempt to save the day in the later acts even though this may prove too little, too late for some viewers. It certainly does deal with rather sensitive subject matter – particularly in the wake of the London riots – and some people could see it as glorifying this kind of lifestyle with the teens’ attitudes essentially saying, “up yours” to authority. That may be, but we shouldn’t be too quick to judge or discount their journey into redemption.

Attack the Block is a dark film – both for its visuals and humour. It was a low-budget production but it doesn’t actually feel this way when you’ve got sinister and unnerving gorilla-like monsters with bright teeth springing up behind every shadow. There is some gore but also underpinning the tale is the excellent wit for which the English are known for, making the drama rather twisted and off-beat.

This film doesn’t take itself too seriously and is merely some light entertainment that showcases one extraordinary night with nods to Independence Day, 80s monster flicks plus Misfits and Alien. Attack the Block is a genre-mashing adventure film that shows a gang accepting an outsider and proving that as a unit it can be bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s not something you’ll remember for years to come but it is enjoyable for what it is: an entertaining, slick and energetic series of frantic events proving one extraordinary and extraterrestrial night in ‘da hood.

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