Arm some trash-talking kids from a large residential complex with not much more than a few knifes and a never-ending supply of firecrackers, pit them against a swarm of ‘gorilla wolf mother-fuckers’… and you’ve got Attack the Block (written and directed by Joe Cornish). Actor Nick Frost and producer James Wilson, who both worked on Shaun of the Dead, are in on the fun as well. As it turns out, Cornish even played a bit part in the same zombie movie. Unfortunately, the monsters chasing these kids are stronger, faster, stealthier, and decidedly much more pissed of than any zombie.
On her way home after work, Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is ganged up on by a group of boys hiding their faces, but makes an escape after a fireball literally falls out of the sky, impacting right next to them. As it turns out, this fireball was no meteor… unless meteors have teeth. Moses, Pest, Dennis, Jerome and Biggz (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, and Simon Howard) aren’t easily intimidated by this creature though, and they kill it without hesitation. It’s only after consulting with the local potheads, Ron (Nick Frost) and Brewis (Luke Treadaway), about their discovery that they realize more of these little critters are slamming into the ground all around the block. Excited at the prospects of not only discovering, but also kicking the ass of an unknown species, the boys run out into the night to pursue their adventure. There’s just one problem: these new creatures are much larger than the first, are black as night and boast some ferocious fangs. Realizing the tables have turned, this group of friends must now run for their lives. Along the way, they’ll cross paths with Sam and have to survive the police, a deranged drug dealer and a group of judgmental, teenage girls.
This film mixes the ‘don’t give a fuck’ teenage characters of Kids (1995) (minus the sex) with the brutal monsters from Aliens (1986) and some of the English comedy seen in Shaun of the Dead (2004) to create the adventurous monster hunt that all boys dream about and reenact with friends at some point in childhood, running around with super-soakers and nerf guns, etc. The unique slang present throughout the film takes some getting used to; and though it may seem unrealistically excessive at times, it’s this kind of trash-talk that so many kids in rough areas utilize as a natural defense – having a tough reputation is often the strongest weapon at their disposal. The gruesome bloodshed and dismemberment of the aliens’ victims is interrupted only a few times by the comedic relief of Ron, Brewis and two pre-teen trouble makers, Mayhem and Probs.
Nobody will be taking home any major awards for acting in this film, but it’s obvious that everyone had a blast with it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to work on a monster thriller? The lighting truly stood out as well, which is quite important for a film that takes place over only several hours in the dead of night. The use of incandescent ambers and fluorescent blues were balanced perfectly throughout. And the creature effects were refreshingly unique – in most monster/alien movies, the production teams make a point to show the detail of their creations; whereas in Attack the Block, the opposite is true – these aliens sport a fur that is ‘blacker than black’, void of all light and detail, which makes for a creature effect relatively new to cinema.
If you can handle blood, childish trash-talk and monsters, Attack the Block deserves your attention. Whether or not it ends up being your cup of tea, you won’t forget just how fun and unique it is in it’s simplicity – simple because all of this adventure is jammed into one night of action and horror.
More info: Attack the Block on IMDB