Attack the Block – Movie Review

This unique and energetic English horror thriller from the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz was on the verge of not being released in North America, until clandestine screenings revealed its long, long legs.  An interesting grass roots way of opening a film and perhaps rigidly reliable. 

Attack the Block seems poised to become a favorite; it is utterly original on every level, from the personalities of the characters, the “personalities” of the monsters, the claustrophobic backdrop of the council estate block,  to its hyped up, energizing tone.

Attack the Block is a one-of-a-kind monster movie with comic and tragic elements; it takes place in the seedy, impoverished world of London’s inner city, where lawlessness and kids run wild (according to the filmmakers). 

The block becomes ground zero for an alien war and yet at its heart, Attack the Block is about the power of love and respect.  And it’s a hell of a great time.

The opening sequences of kids on a frenetic bike ride through a dark and dangerous terrain of inner city is galvanizing; its visceral, heart pounding and stylized.  There is the whiff of violence, of testosterone and danger, and it’s beautiful. What horror movie opens with a moving art piece like this? 

We sort of see the kids under their hoods and notice their tightly hierarchical circle, the boss played by newcomer - John Boyega and his boys (Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, and Jumayn Hunter).

A young nurse (Jodie Whittaker) is mugged while along the poorly lit street to her building. The gang of kids/gangster wannabes botches the stick up and she realizes they are frightened, and probably only around 14 years old.  In fact, a couple of kids who look like about 6 or 7 tags along for the ride, looking up to the gangsters, hoping to earn points to “join up”.

The police come and just as aliens invade.  The woman and her assailants find themselves hiding together in the police van terrified of what they’re seeing outside as officers are murdered and dismembered from the sheer force of the thing that has landed on their turf.  And they are now allies evading the same threat. 

It’s an uncomfortable convergence of events, but in man versus alien war, anything goes. The kids are the first targets since they are the only ones bold enough to be there in the dark of night, most are hiding behind locked doors, fearful of kids like these.   One is stranded in a closed dumpster; another’s dog is eaten by the aliens, the rest head home to assemble weapons.  The nurse is with them, tending to their wounds.

Attack the Block is rock solid and breathtakingly original.   Joe Cornish has hit the nail on the head as a director and screenwriter. 

Apparently, Steven Spielberg agrees – Cornish co-wrote the screenplay for the much anticipated The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.  But for now, Attack the Block is a must see – zowie!

Visit the Movie database for more information.

35mm sci-fi comedy drama
Written and Directed by Joe Cornish
Opens July 29
Runtime: 88 minutes
Country UK
Language: English

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