Thursday, 12 May 2011

Attack the Block - Review

I went in expecting Shaun of the Dead with aliens rather than zombies and instead got a sometimes wry, sometimes jarring, sometimes laugh out loud funny, low budget alien invasion movie.  Set in Sarf London.

Joe Cornish, of Adam and Joe fame, makes his directorial debut and despite a lack of money he produces an eventually entertaining movie.  Nick Frost is the only recognisable member of the cast, the rest are relative unknowns and some of do better than others portraying a teenage South London gang attempting to defend their block from invading aliens.

The gang don't start off as our favourite people in the world, they mug a young nurse on a dark deserted street and it's a beginning that we all can relate to, which ever side of that fence we sit.

AT, in his Live for Films Review, talks about the audience at the cinema last night and yes, there were a large group of hoodies there.  It will attract that, Christ knows for the first twenty minutes I struggled with the dialogue, but as the gang become more entangled with the well designed aliens (sometimes a low budget can lead to a great decision) so their need to rely on others increases.  Although the acting at times isn't the best, the movie actually plays a neat trick of humanising the hoodies.  Attack the Block is as much a beacon of hope for 'broken Britain' as it is a Sci-fi horror flick.

The action is well done, the minimal effects mean much of the blood and gore happens away from our prying eyes with just hints of what's happened and personally it was better for that.  The aliens are just big black furry things with glowing blue teeth and we see little of them to start with but in later scenes their design works brilliantly.  When the cast are chased through the narrow corridors of the block, by their seemingly ever hungry pursuers, we see the aliens properly and somehow it works.

By the end of the movie you're rooting for the muggers.  Rooting for our broken society to win out and to his credit, not once does Cornish fall back on any cliches.

Nick Frost gets the best lines, but to be fair it's probably just his more experienced delivery that gets him the bigger laughs.  The 'street' speak of the gang might deter some, but as the movies progresses you get used to it.  I'd liken it to reading Trainspotting: you become accustomed and eventually start to enjoy.

Attack the Block isn't a Shaun of the Dead copycat at all.  There's a gritty reality to it and some clever commentary on British society as a whole.  Which arguably is much much more than I had any right to expect.
★★★☆☆