Attack the Block (2011)

Directed By: Joe Cornish
Written By: Joe Cornish
Starring: John Boyega
  Alex Esmail
  Jodie Whittaker
  Nick Frost
Attack the Block

Attack the Block is a superb British horror film and a stunning debut from writer / director Joe Cornish. Fun, stylish, brutal, funny and very very exciting. Watch Attack the Block – you won’t be disappointed.

November 5th – Guy Fawkes Night – and five South London hoodie-wearing teenagers rob a woman in the middle of a street. This mugging, however, is rudely interrupted by an alien falling from the sky, smashing into a car. The teens promptly beat E.T. to death and drag the “grey monkey” back to their high-rise residential block of flats (the “block”). Teenage Thugs One: Aliens Nil. But all actions have consequences and the block suddenly finds itself under attack from more aliens – bigger, angrier, toothier monsters – and it’s up to the group of youths to defend their home and stop the invasion.

The synopsis above does Attack the Block no justice. In any way. Attack the Block is packed with character, scares, laughs, blood, violence, thrills, and is thematically bulging with messages that tickle the mind as well as the eyes. It appears heavy influenced by John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (thematically and stylistically), including the excellent score by Steven Price and how our protagonists start as our antagonists, and this is no bad thing at all.

Writer / Director Joe Cornish has crafted something incredible. On the marketing trail he has mentioned how he wanted to create an authentic version of South London (albeit one with aliens…) and he has achieved this deftly, with almost Brick-esque language seamlessly rolled off tongues like a season 4 episode of The Wire.

It is well shot, fast-paced and always exciting, and clearly lovingly crafted from the foundations upwards. The aliens are genuinely original and terrifyingly believable, creating a real threat throughout. Cornish has achieved something magnificent and injected some much-needed class into the British horror film industry.

Attack the Block is filled with believable characters, from the loveable nine year olds Probs (Sammy Williams) and Mayhem (Michael Ajao) to the insane rapping drug dealer Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter). Jodie Whittaker also gives a sympathetic and honest turn as mugging-victim-turned-ally Sam. It is the main five teenagers that excel in Attack the Block; Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Alex Esmail and John Boyega are all superb throughout, creating individual, believable performances. Boyega is especially exceptional, portraying gang leader Moses with passion and charisma.

Even The Daily Mail may struggle to be overly negative towards this film as, although our protagonists are asbo-teasing muggers, the teenagers are humanized and understandable. Whereas most modern horror films paint a picture of evil children running riot through our society (Eden Lake, for example), Cornish let’s us see them from all angles; and it is refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable because of this.

There are a couple of niggles that may annoy some people; those who expect stunning twists will be disappointed, as the storyline is relatively predictable and expected, but this doesn’t stop it from always being exhilarating. There are perhaps some superfluous characters that could’ve ended up on the cutting floor early on (I’m looking at you, Luke Treadaway – you’re great, but utterly pointless!) and people that hate the Byronic hero will simply loathe the teenagers from beginning to end. These are all minor issues, though, and do not prevent Attack the Block from being compelling and immensely fun.

Attack the Block is excellent. It is sharp, witty, brutal, bloody and bloody fun. It is an instantly re-watchable horror comedy that will quickly land on some people’s favourite films list. Joe Cornish should be proud. South London should be proud. Britain should be proud. Go see it.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

2 Comments on “Attack the Block”

  1. Rag says:

    He’s not wrong. This is a great movie. I missed it at the flicks (much to my disappointment), but just got the DVD.

    I have seen many, MANY Hollywood blockbusters that didn’t drag me in as quickly and completely as this film. You gotta love quality story telling, good casting and slick execution. Why can’t the big budget block busters (please excuse the pun) manage this. Or at the very least, throw some of the budget at the people with talent.

    This is a VERY good film. It could be longer (it was only 30 mins right? My clock says different. But my attention span is so slight I refuse to believe I was completely engrossed for the billed running time). But that is my only complaint.

    You hear me fam?

    Truth!

  2. anthony straeger says:

    I was very surprised by how good this was. Much better than Shaun, much funnier than Shaun. the cast were excellent and the right level of hip and cool was reached before it turns into a parody.

    Loved it,

    Anthony

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