Attack The Block
It seemed last weekend was one of finally getting around to seeing things I’d meant to for a while. I watched Attack the Block and found it quite enjoyable. As the box promised, we have Outer Space vs. Inner City in another enjoyable comedy-horror from England. The film had decent special effects, and a good enough plot, and plenty of thrills and chills, and quite a good mix of humour along the way.
Given the limited (I assume) budget of the film, the aliens were remarkably well handled. Of course we don’t get to see very many full shots of them, which just increases their “fear factor”. What limited glimpses we did enjoy were quite impressive. The aliens were almost a cross between giant dogs and gorillas, with their black fur obscuring any real details. We do get to see their glow in the dark teeth, shining in the darkness, as the invaders slink around in the shadows of “The Block”.
The film opens with a gang of thugs mugging a young woman (Jodie Whittaker) on her way home from work. Their mugging is interrupted as something falls from the sky, destroying a parked car, allowing the woman to make her escape and run home. What fell to earth? A small alien, that the gang chases and kills; parading the body through their neighbourhood as a trophy. Of course, when you have one alien fall to earth, more must follow, and follow they do. Now we get the hairy, terrorizing aliens, and the gang must fight them off and defend their homes. Our gang heroes now step up and fight the aliens, avoid the police and a rival gang leader.
Unfortunately this is where the movie kind of lost me for a bit. This gang of hoodlums just mugged an innocent young woman at knife point, and we are meant to empathize with them? They violently killed an alien, not knowing what it was. The invasion really played out like the aliens were there to avenge the death of the first alien. I was really hoping that the aliens were going to just slaughter the gang, who were; at first meeting; essentially teenage, narrow-minded thugs.
Of course these thugs have their own “codes of honour” as all gangs seem to proclaim, and I did like how this was brought up later in the film. Upon returning home to their apartment building, hiding from aliens, the gang runs across Sam, their mugging victim from earlier in the night and forces themselves into her home to hide from the aliens. The gang eventually apologizes to her, saying they didn’t know she lived in “The Block”. The social commentary deepens as she calls them out.
“Listen yeah, we never knew you lived in the block, if we knew you we wouldn’t have stepped you” one of the gang says to Sam who replies “What, it would have been okay to mug me if I didn’t live here? Is that how it works?”
The young cast did quite a good job with their roles, and were well handled by writer/director Joe Cornish. The dialogue could be confusing with all the slang being thrown about, and when you add in the accents; well let’s just say I was happy to have watched it at home with the subtitles on. Nick Frost as a supporting character was highly enjoyable as comic relief, and gave some extra incentive to watch. The gang casting was well done, but I really did enjoy Jodie Whittaker, as her character was the only one that you could truly like and empathize with from start to finish. Attack The Block was equal parts fun and horror, making for an enjoyable film, even if I didn’t enjoy the way the main characters started out, as they defend their block, and travel their path of redemption.