Director: Joe Cornish (2011)
Starring: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost
Find it: IMDB
Those who think that British culture is all "tally-ho" and "spiffing" with Hugh Grant and a Queen soundtrack will find a ripe riposte in Joe Cornish's Attack The Block, a gritty horror-comedy which pits nonsense-speaking hoodies against vicious aliens in the setting of an inner city tower block. Some of the yoofs' alleged charms may have been lost since last month's rioting in London and Birmingham, but Attack The Block is still a remarkably fair-handed, clever and very fun piece.
It opens with skint Nurse Sam (Whittaker) being mugged by a gang of hooded yobs. After half-inching her phone, cash and jewellery, the oiks make off to a nearby park where they happen across a lone alien, fallen out of the sky. Led by leader Moses (Boyega), the kids kick it to death. But their alien isn't as alone as it might have first appeared. A full-on alien invasion follows, the beasties intent on avenging the death of their fallen and tearing these delinquents a new one.
Were it not for the fact that the kids come to realise the error of their ways, I'd be inclined to side with the aliens. Writer and director Joe Cornish dances a fine line between sympathising with the brats, mocking and condemning them; by the end of the movie, you can sort of understand why they'd choose to behave how they do, even if you'd never agree with it. Still, it niggles slightly, especially when the kids make their inevitable transition to heroes at the end. Maybe had they not spent August trashing their own fucking cities, I would've been more receptive to Attack The Block's "yobbos are people too" message.
But this isn't Kidulthood; Attack The Block is an alien invasion movie. And a jolly good one it is too. As with most comedy slash horror pieces, it's never all that scary, but it approaches it. The aliens look a treat, and there are some nice gore effects amongst the jokes. Jodie Whittaker's Sam is a welcome presence, grounding the ghetto with proper words, grammar and generally not acting like a twat. Those terrified of Attack The Block's urban script will find further relief with Nick Frost's amusing drug dealer and posh pothead Brewis (Luke Treadway). But the hoodies are the film's stars, so you'd better learn to like them. And thankfully they do prove likeable in time. Lessons are learnt and redemption found. I particularly came to like Alex Esmail's 'Pest' and Leeon Jones as Jerome. Even if the former does spend most of the film looking like this cretin:
The truth, as they say, being stranger than fiction.
There's an underlying feeling that it should be funnier or scarier in places - and its soundtrack is intolerably horrible (I know, it's thoroughly appropriate) - but Attack The Block has a heart that's hard to deny. If all else fails, you can just enjoy the schadenfreude of seeing the wee scrotes meeting various gory ends.
Balls to national service or prison sentences; if we really want to sort out the youth of today, Attack The Block teaches us that the best thing to do is just throw some aliens at the little fuckers.