Thursday, 26 May 2011

Attack The Block

A young woman is mugged by a group of hoodies. However, their world is shattered when an alien lands in a car right next to the mugging. Taking advantage of a now open car to try and nick the stereo, the leader, Moses, climbs in; but is scratched by the alien before it runs off. Taking offense at the assault, Moses gives chase and gives the alien a kicking! However, this alien seems to be a female (I guess) scout alien, and now several members of the hoodie gang (most of all Moses) are covered in alien scent. So when the really nasty male aliens land, they try to track down the female, killing everyone in their way and particularly those who smell like her.

A very enjoyable film with a novel twist on the alien invasion story (Outer Space vs Inner City!). It’s more thriller than horror; there are tense moments that make you jump and it’s not particularly gory. So I think that it was slightly mis-marketed; advertised as being "From the Producers of Shaun of the Dead", Attack the Block is definitely not a comedy. Sure there are a few funny moments in the trailer (adding to the Shaun of the Dead angle), but these are about the only funny bits in it. OK there are a few more, but not so many.

The Aliens are very cool. I don’t think that the budget was massive for this film, and instead of going for some over-the-top sci-fi creatures, the aliens are gorilla-esque, but completely matt black! There is no definition to them at all; when you see a dead one close up it’s like a hole in the screen! The only discernible feature is the teeth when the mouth is open! Very novel, very scary, very cool. The only bit that made me doubt them was a slow motion shot of several aliens chasing Moses down a corridor, and I couldn’t help but think of the old Kia-ora adverts as the crows lolloped along behind the kid with the Kia-ora!

The cast are good; John Boyega plays main character Moses very well; arrogant at the start of the film but rather more humble by the end. Nick Frost is fairly underused as Ron; a small-time marijuana dealer (but then it’s not that kind of film); and Luke Treadaway is good as the resident stoner. Jodie Whittaker is good as Sam, the poor girl at the sharp end of the mugging in the films opening scenes, but is actually a neighbour of the “hoodies” in the block. And therein lies perhaps the only problem with the film. As these hoodies are a gang whose entertainment is mugging people and generally being aggressive, it’s hard to empathise with them at all. Consequently when they are in danger I found myself not caring whether they died or not (though there is one character I definitely wanted to die; so I guess he was written well). 

Still, that is only a fairly minor niggle, and given that this is his first feature film, director Joe Cornish has made a damn fine alien thriller. Novel idea, cool aliens, some interesting camera work at times; funky film, and I think we can perhaps expect more of Mr Cornish in the future.