To sum up this film, all I need to say is four words: film of 2011, bruv.
I do love Joe Cornish (I used to tape the Adam & Joe Show because it was on too late for me, I’m also a member of Pod Squadron/Digiforce) so I thought I’d probably like Attack the Block. A little like Scott Pilgrim, this film is a dream for likeminded geeks: Nick Frost, Nira Park, Edgar Wright; it doesn’t get much better than this. So, admittedly, I am a little biased. I think this could be balanced out by my paranoia that we were amongst the oldest in the screen. None of that mattered when the opening credits started running; I was drawn in immediately and didn’t it lose me once.
Like Shaun of the Dead, there’s fantastic use of foreshadowing (“fucking monsters”, for example); it’s subtle enough to be a throw away remark rather than being a direct reference to what’s going to happen at the end so extra brownie points for literary techniques! Cornish certainly knows how to win over a literature graduate.
The aliens are genuinely scary. You don’t see a lot of them (they’re black, really black, “blacker than my cousin”), which just adds to the fear. It plays on classic childhood nightmares: monsters jumping out of you from the dark. The fact that all you see of the aliens are their rows and rows of luminous, deadly teeth make them more menacing. Cornish drew from a lot from classic sci-fi films which really paid off, noting nice little homages throughout. Tension is built very well, particularly in one scene where the main characters fight them aliens with fireworks, making the corridor so smoky it’s disorientating. Despite knowing something was going to jump out of the smog, I still jumped. Lots. There’s a good amount of gore too, just as you would expect from a decent alien flick. To be honest it was a little more than I was expecting; it worked well balancing out some of the sillier moments. Not that the jokes are silly, though. They’re hilarious, there was more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, but without being obvious. It’s nice that the film was kept British, too. I’m tired of films or TV shows having to adapt to American culture; changing how British the film is would make it something else entirely. Everyone knows someone who talks like that, wears stuff like that (the little gangsters with light up trainers are a nice nostalgic touch); watching it just feels like home.
At first the characters aren’t particularly likeable. They’re intimidating and pretty unpleasant, but saving the world brings out the charm in them. By the half way mark I had really warmed to them all, and was particularly sad when members of the group were picked off. There’s a nice moral in there too, resulting in climax of the film. I’m trying to keep this post relatively spoiler-free, you’ll just have to watch the it to see what happens.
Despite being associated with comedy horrors like SOTD, Attack the Block stands proudly on it’s own two feet: an instant cult classic that has no need to rely on friends to make it look cool.