Alien attacks are scary enough, but when your only defenders are teenage criminals? It’s terrifying.
“Attack the Block” is a British sci-fi film written and directed by Joe Cornish. The plot focuses on a street gang in South London who, after mugging a woman on the street, find themselves under attack by alien invaders. They band together to protect their neighborhood and each other from the horrific beasts.
The first beast the gang encounters is a freaky, hairless creature. After the gang kills it they begin to think they could profit or gain fame for their discovery.
They take it to their building, asking a drug dealer for advice. From here they start to see more creatures crashing to the ground, and the group is ready to go out and fight.
This moment is shown as a great montage as young hoodlums grab their weapons from their homes and yell at their parents that they’ll stay out as late as they want.
The first kill wasn’t an easy one, but the gang finds that the creatures falling now are different. They’re tougher and scarier, described as “alien gorilla wolf monsters.”
That’s truly what they look like, with jet-black fur and glow-in-the-dark fangs. At times throughout the film you can only see the teeth and it’s legitimately intense.
The movie makes good use of the science fiction elements from alien films while integrating fight scenes and the rally-together occasions of the action genre. It finds a way to use enough humor to break the tension, all while developing these characters in a ridiculous situation set to an amazing score.
Despite the distributors’ concerns, the film’s dialogue is not hard to understand. Yes, the majority of the characters are members of a street gang in South London.
Yes, they use slang and they have accents. However, this is never a distraction for the audience. The jokes are still funny, the plot still makes sense and, if you really listen, you shouldn’t have any trouble understanding what’s going on.
Besides, if it really bothers you or your brain refuses to process anything but American dialects, closed captioning is always an option.
The movie tries to remind the audience early on that this is a gang. These are characters you shouldn’t root for. They robbed a woman – this is not a one-and-done incident, as the characters are thrown together once more during the attacks – and they showed no remorse for this.
Still, these are the heroes to root for. Maybe they started out as the bad guys, but once the attacks start they are just out there trying to protect where they live. Their sense of unity regarding their apartment building (known as the Block) is oddly patriotic and moving.
Plus, they kick a lot of alien ass using their street smarts, a bunch of fireworks and some dumb luck. It’s impossible not to root for them.
Maybe it’s because there is no one else to root for – the law enforcement in the area does not seem privy to the knowledge of hairy alien beasts falling from the sky – but it’s more likely that the audience roots for the gang because they’re realistic tragic heroes.
The film is worth checking out, as Cornish did a fantastic job in his directorial debut. He managed to skip past the awkward rookie stage to create something great.
It makes me eager for future projects from him, as his ability to tell a story and present it in a creative, captivating package is amazing. As the film winds down the audience will crave more.
The movie is left open-ended, yet nothing feels truly missing. Most of the loose ends are tied up and it allows for a sequel or spin-off if Cornish chooses to go this route.
Overall the film is a shining example that sometimes the best movies aren’t the ones with the biggest budget, the prettiest Hollywood starlet and most famous leading man.
Sometimes a street gang of kids can be the heroes.