Creature features have been in relative slumber in recent years, to the dismay of their indebted audience. In light of this Joe Cornish’s new film feels thoroughly traditional and old-fashioned in its subject. This novelty factor gives this absolutely wonderful piece of film-making its cutting edge. From the kick-ass title screen shot to the explosive ending the whole thing screams old-skool fright night monster movie excellence!
But as with all great monster movies there is a twist, and Attack the Block is no different. Except that the twist comes not in the guise of an infested surprise killer but in the characters themselves, the heroes. Or maybe more appropriately anti-heroes. Beginning with a back alley mugging of an alone at night white middle class nurse the film doesn’t pull punches in the depiction of its nefarious and youthful cast. It does however give the gang of ruffians deep and moving character arcs in which to play with our notional instincts of youth, subculture, and ultimately our primal fears of what lurk under the hodies of the demonized counter culture of British council estate youth. Making these characters very accessible to the audience and galvanizing audience empathy for these demonic psychopaths in a way that the media would undoubtedly deplore.
While not an entirely novel invention, films have given voice to those cast in shadow for many years, it’s Attack the Block’s close to home pang that makes it so engaging. An extremely British depiction of class speculation and assumption that is layered with understated social commentary. From hard-hitting monologues to throw away yet intuitive one-liners, all of which will jar an average audience member’s innate perception of the on screen environment and its inhabitants. Displaying clearly the two-sided oppressive environment that many youths will grow up in. Kids suspected from without and corrupted from within who are essentially bored s***less and who, humorously, revel in the opportunity to smash in some aliens bruv.
Enough with the socio-political analysis however. For those not interested in ‘challenging their views and loving it’ the film is heaped with further potential. Atmospherically shot and actually extremely cinematic for its titular restricted shooting area; the action literally never leaves the block and the surrounding streets. There’s a real sense that this is a battleground in which there’s a war going on to be fought or lost. Strategic manoeuvres by the anti-heroes are juxtaposed to all out manic fight or flight moments of edge of your seat jumpy shocks.
While it succeeds in scaring it never gets lost in a need to be serious or faithful to a singular genre. Attack the Block shifts tonally between these moments of real fright to relieving moments of genuinely laugh out loud comedy. Humour however never overtakes this debut. Cornish understandably chooses to align himself wholeheartedly in the Carpenter-esque tradition of horror. There will be laughs, but there will be blood.
Attack the Block is hands down the best British film you will see this year! This is said with no hesitation or obedience to that obvious threat which is Submarine. While Submarine embodied everything Never Let Me Go tried and failed to be; interesting, different and obviously quirky, Attack the Block achieves all those things and more! One thing is evident though, it’s the year of the British director debut.
With its exciting blend of tense claustrophobic scenes, genuinely frightening jumps, layered social commentary and laugh out loud humour it’s hard to see who Attack the Block won’t appeal to. Tis got some serious bite! Allow it!
- ‘Double Play Edition’ includes the movie on 2 formats: Blu-ray & DVD!
- Junior Commentary with Joe Cornish with John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Simon Howard and Leeon Jones
- Senior Commentary with Joe Cornish with Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway and Nick Frost
- Behind The Block
- Creature Feature
- Meet The Gang
- Joe’s Massage
- It’s A Rap
- Unfilmed Action