Director – Joe Cornish
Cast – John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost, Luke Treadaway, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, Franz Drameh, Simon Howard, Paige Meade, Danielle Vitalis, Sammy Williams, Michael Ajao
Release Year – 2011
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Attack the Block is one horror film I was really looking forward to this year, partly because I dig anything to do with aliens and also because I normally enjoy UK horror films. Coming with Edgar Wright as a producer I figured the film, a debut effort for writer/director Joe Cornish, would have a high level of “cool” present throughout, and that was one reason I found this experience so enjoyable. What are the other reasons? Well, who doesn’t enjoy an alien invasion film with everything done right?
A teen gang consisting of adolescents that mimic everything wrong with today’s youth find themselves in the turf war of a lifetime when an alien invasion strikes South London and they fight back to keep their block.
Do you remember those fun adventurous horror films of decades before? Films like The Monster Squad have always adorned the horror genre due to how damn fun they are aside from the horror provided, and Attack the Block is the adventurous horror film that 2011 needed. The film starts off with the young gang mugging a woman walking the streets of London alone at night (really lady?), showing us from the get-go that despite the teens being in a “gang” they are still children by showing us that during the mugging they were just as scared as the young woman was. When an alien crash lands in their neighborhood they deem themselves vigilantes and slay the beast, which proves to be a costly decision when countless other alien creatures begin landing all around South London. The look of the creatures was fantastic, coming off as giant wolves with blacker than black fur, no visible eyes, and raging teeth that glow. I had honestly never come across creatures like that before, especially the glowing teeth, and I applaud the filmmakers for giving us an original idea in this day and age. Of course, the most important element of this film is not the creatures :sniff sniff:, but our characters. We are given many enjoyable characters that came well-written and provided positively to the story, and despite their hostility and immature antics we eventually learn that the young gang members are capable of doing good if given the opportunity to apply themselves. Of course, with dead-beat parents the boys are left with little discipline and naturally turned their boredom into criminal activity – one of the numerous usages of social commentary provided in the story. Despite the boys stealing the show our lead actress Sam, the young woman they mugged, plays a positive role as well although I did find her usage a bit silly at times. The action written into the film is great and I was glad to see that despite their young age we do see some of the gang members die, which played greatly on the viewer’s emotions and that fact that all is possible (and sometimes inevitable) in war – especially when your enemy is not from this world.
Joe Cornish complimented his awesome screenplay with equally awesome direction, giving us beautiful visuals and positive camerawork to provide us with a visually appealing piece in addition to all of the other great things going on before us. His execution of the horror is fantastic, giving us plenty to marvel at thanks to incredible looking creatures that were thankfully not entirely CGI and a fair amount of gore to go with them. I personally wished that we would have been given more gore in this piece, but I have noticed that gore tends to be one of the few elements lacking in UK horror films as of late unless Neil Marshall is directing. Nonetheless Cornish continued his directing onslaught with positive performances from all of the actors involved, playing heavily into the well-executed horror due to their performances coming off real and (when appropriate) even comical at times. I cannot say how much of an influence Edgar Wright had on this film, but if you remember how enjoyable cool and “fresh” Shaun of the Dead was then expect more of the same enjoyability in Attack the Block.
Overall, Attack the Block is one of the most enjoyable horror films of 2011 and one that I suggest you check out if you enjoy adventurous horror films in the vein of Shaun of the Dead. Joe Cornish is fantastic in his filmmaking debut and gives us one hell of an enjoyable experience sure to please all who view this piece.