‘Attack The Block’ lives up to the hype

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Attack the Block

Directed by Joe Cornish

Written by Joe Cornish

2011, UK

Attack The Block tells the story of a gang of South London youths who kill an alien that has landed on earth, upon mistaking it for a vicious raccoon. After this, many more begin invading Earth and so, led by someone conveniently called Moses (John Boyega), they decide that it is up to them to defend everybody and stop the invasion.

The film lives up to its considerable buzz, managing to blend a kind of comedy and horror that is reminiscent of films such as Gremlins and Shaun of the Dead. Not surprisingly, Edgar Wright serves as a producer, and Nick Frost has a small role in the film as a drug dealer. While the people involved might lead one to expect a comedy, the ramping-up of the horror elements as the film progresses makes sense given the plot’s progressively increased focus on the invasion itself.

The film’s success rests on the casting of the gang of teens, and these refreshingly age-appropriate actors bring an innocence and naivety that is essential to a film like this. Their distinctly British voices and use of South London slang (“Das’ an alien bruv, believe me!”) further help along the authenticity and sense of place.

Essentially, the film is a commentary on the way in which the police in the UK treat urban youths, and this becomes clearer as the film progresses. We see that the kids seem to be more terrified of being caught by the police or making a local drug dealer angry than fighting vicious aliens. Interestingly enough, Cornish got the idea for the script after being mugged by some youths and so to see him take the viewpoint that they are products of their environment and hindered instead of helped by police is a refreshing take.

Joe Cornish has made a film that is incredibly confident for a first feature. He clearly knows what he is doing and  is noticeably a huge fan of 80’s cinema because the film feels as though it could easily play back to back with a classic horror/comedy from that time and the aliens are at times very reminiscent of the creatures from Predator. It is stylishly directed, without compromising its sense of urban London grittiness.

While it’s somewhat let down by a too-pat ending that too obviously reinforces its message, Attack The Block manages to successfully blend social commentary and entertainment, and announces Joe Cornish as a director to watch.

Yiannis Cove

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