Attack the Block – Review

Here’s an interesting concept.  Take some rough, hardened South London hooded teenagers and pit them against an array of deadly, mysterious alien forces.  Set it up in a dangerous council estate on Bonfire night.  Add Nick Frost in for good measure.  Then finally, mix in a perfect blend of comedy, action and horror and then you have Joe Cornish’s latest film, Attack the Block.

The film focuses on several youths whose lives equate to nothing more than Call of Duty and the odd mugging.  That is until one night, when the teens realise they’re about to encounter a full on alien invasion on their streets.  To protect their loved ones – and more importantly, themselves – they hit back at the aliens tearing through their block of flats.  To ensure their survival, they have to improvise and work together.

It’s a unique set up which sells itself fantastically well.  Aided with some fantastic concepts, Attack the Block becomes more than just your standard invasion fare.  There are real scares to be encountered throughout, as the vicious creatures bring forth the carnage.  Thankfully enough, the teenagers are infused with depth and realism too, bringing their characters to life.  Cornish somehow manages to perfect the characterisations of the South London hoodies, along with the others throughout.

When the aliens begin their full frontal assault, the youths retaliate with any form of weaponry they can find.  The action steps up a notch when they do fight back, providing some incredible scenes which are also blended well with elements of horror.  Specific moments in the film leave you on edge, as the creatures plough through the block of flats.

The film balances its various elements with ease, merging horror and comedy effortlessly, reflecting the perfect blend of a similar film; Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead.  Due to Edgar Wright’s involvement as the executive producer, there’s no surprise as to how the film tackles the different ingredients so well.

The special effects work as an advantage towards the creature’s simple but effective design.  The ‘blacker-than-black’ fur and luminescent sharp teeth make for a unique and scary threat.  The effects utilise this look brilliantly, fitting into the dark landscape of the film perfectly.

There’s never a dull moment to be had whilst watching Attack the Block.  Regardless of their skewed moral compass, the thugs are a thrill to watch.  They’re engaging, entertaining and more importantly, real.  Whilst fighting for survival, great camerawork and scripting is employed.  Scenes are framed perfectly, such as the few slow-mo segments which are included, truly bringing forth tension and excitement towards the final moments of the film.

Thankfully enough, Cornish realises the sheer horror of the invasion needs to be escalated, and the stakes are raised to an extent which makes you fear for the hoodies’ survival.  This coincides with a great final sequence and a rather satisfying ending.

Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block harks back to old 70s b-movies, but he perfects his film with a great script, entertaining characters and explosive scenes.  For a genre which is stale with overused concepts (see – Cowboys and Aliens), Cornish introduces his unique take on an invasion, including terrifying monsters and memorable characters.  He understands the language of the hoodies, as well as their actions. 

Attack the Block really is one of the best films of the year, so here’s to Joe Cornish’s future projects.  Shizzle.

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