Written and directed by first timer Joe Cornish, Attack the Block is about a street gang who save their neighbourhood from aliens after they’ve killed the first alien they encounter. It turns out to be a baby and mum is not too pleased about them killing it.
Apart from Jodie Whittaker as Sam and Nick Frost as Ron, there are not a lot of big names in the film. The actors portraying the gang members and “wanna-be” gang members are all unknowns. The one young actor to watch for is John Boyega, he plays the gangs leader Moses.
Boyega displays the range and versatility of a seasoned actor. He came across like a mix of Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington. He is still working and I hope that he continues to grace our screens for a long time. The other young lad of note was Alex Esmail who played cheekily funny gang member Pest. He is another young actor who is still working and another who does well in the medium.
The story is pretty straight forward. Moses and his gang mug Sam for her mobile phone. She gives the phone up and then fights them for her only piece of jewellery. She escapes after losing her phone and she is a bit traumatised by the whole ordeal. Moses gives the impression that he is a reluctant gang member although he is trying to break into the “big-time” and work for the local drugs baron Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter). He claims it is the only way to get out of the neighbourhood.
The events of the film all occur on Guy Fawkes night. When the first alien makes its dramatic entrance, the lads all think it is a firework. While they are prodding it and trying to figure out what it is, the creature wounds Moses by scratching his face. This act has sealed its fate and the lads hunt it down to a shed as it tries to escape and kill it.
They immediately congratulate themselves as being real hard men and decide to take the creature to show the neighbourhood what they’ve done and Moses hopes to impress Hi-Hatz enough to become a member of his gang.
We are introduced to Ron (Frost) a local pot head and small time distributor of weed and the girls that Moses and crew wish to impress with their alien killing prowess. In true South London fashion the girls are not impressed although they do allow the boys to come into one of their flats for a visit.
Meanwhile it has been literally raining aliens who are all in search of Moses and his gang for the alien they are carrying. It turns out that it is emitting some sort of pheromone that attracts them. Moses realises this and strapping the body to his back he and his gang take on the aliens to save the neighbourhood.
Sam and the lads become unlikely allies and besides battling aliens they also have to fight Hi-Hatz — who turns out to be a first-class nut case — and the police who all think the gang is responsible for the carnage in the hood.
The film relies a good bit on stereotypes to fill in the gaps and to provide some peripheral comedy. There is a white university student who weaves in and out of the story who is so stoned he’s not aware of what’s going on. Ron the pothead is the typical non-active tenant of a lot of neighbourhoods in this type of setting.
I enjoyed this film immensely. The casting was brilliant as well as the acting. The lads all sounded like they really did step right out of the South London gang culture. Their speech patterns and dialogue were spot on. I know, I deal with these types of lads on a daily basis.
I loved the character arc of Moses. He starts the film as your average run-of-the-mill “hoodie” who wants to join the big man’s gang. By the end of the film, he has learned to take responsibility for his actions and when he is arrested later, he owns it. He knows that he has broken the law (in the past) and that he might have to face possible incarceration.
My only complaint about the film was the “rose-coloured” picture that the director and producer opted to give us of the gang members and their actions. Like I said earlier, I have dealt with these types of lads for years and I find it insulting that they are painted as children who really don’t want to hurt anyone. They are just in a bad area and misunderstood.
In real life this is generally not the case. Most would cause you serious harm or even kill you if they as a group wanted something from you or were out to prove how hard they are. Most would have weapons, unlike the lads in the film. The “youngers” (Slang for very young members of a gang) of any gang are the weapon holders, mainly because the law is more lenient on the very young when caught with a weapon.
But, real life aside, the film is cracking good entertainment and a great first effort from fledgling writer/director Joe Cornish. The aliens are suitably scary and the actors are all more than believable in their roles. One of the best comic horror films I’ve seen in a long time. I would heartily recommend this film. Its worth the price of admission (or the price of a rental) and it will satisfy those parts that other horror films just don’t reach…in a good way.
- WTF: Attack The Block (wtfbabe.wordpress.com)
- WA gang member, 17, sentenced to nearly 50 years (mysanantonio.com)
- WA gang member, 17, sentenced to nearly 50 years (seattletimes.com)
- KC Rapper Reaches Out to Gang Bangers through Music (fox4kc.com)
- 40 Days of Halloween Pt 08: Attack the Block (2011) (invizweb.wordpress.com)