Having written alongside Edgar Wright for Spielberg’s take on The Adventures of Tin Tin, the lesser known Joe Cornish brings himself into a league of budding English filmmakers with his feature debut Attack The Block. Whilst Duncan Jones‘ second science fiction release Source Code, showed his ability to explore the realms of action and romance, Cornish steers his alien invasion story to be more in line with a comedic thriller.
Sam (Jodie Whittaker) a young nurse walks home through the gritty backdrop of South London before a group of ‘hoodied’ delinquents’ demand her belongings. Their interaction is cut short when a feral alien crashes into a nearby car. Threatened by the attack, the group of hoodlums brutally murder the creature – wearing its carcass as a medal of their efforts. This is not long before the full extent of the alien invasion is revealed, with a multitude of larger and more intimidating aliens. The centre of the story shifts from Sam to the gang as they assign themselves the role of heroes and attempt to exterminate the extraterrestrial threat.
Attack The Block demonstrates a proficiency that is usually amiss in debut features. In wanting to transport the story of E.T to a more familiar setting, Cornish abides by the rule of keeping the action local and not involving the outside world. This is achieved by limiting the majority of the action to take place in a familiar London tower-block, alluded to in the title. The locality is inescapable with the majority of the dialogue manifesting as pop-culture riddled slang.
The host of aliens often referred to as ‘gorilla wolf motherfuckers’, have a physical appearance that isn’t dissimilar to the monkeys in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film does benefit from fearing the unseen until it just looks like a load of men in fur suits – yet this does carry its own charm. Preferring the simplicity of aesthetic in B-movies to CGI, there are even a few lines of dialogue that acknowledge their peculiar appearance.
Not to say this isn’t fucking scary
The film sets itself a difficult task in making the central characters unlikeable, and then trying to win you over through their heroics. Although it explains their behaviour as inevitable and it adds a somewhat realistic quality, empathy is lost for certain characters despite their background.
Attack The Block starts at a fast pace and manages to maintain interest and suspense for the remaining 88mins. The onslaught of London dialect may form a barrier to international audiences or it could resonate with an otherworldly charm. Picked up by Screen Gems for US distribution, the release date is yet to be confirmed.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a sip: every time some enters a lift (elevator)
Take a shot: every time the slang becomes too much to understand (It’ll help)