Attack the Block Review

May 28, 2011

(This would have been a video review but days of wrestling with a stubborn Windows Live Movie Maker have left me defeated. So you have to use your eyes to read, like in the olden days.)

Our United Kingdom is in a perpetual state of identity crisis, with class divides accentuated by the Tory-led coalition. David Cameron is hardly an appropriate national figurehead at this time, since he looks like foie gras piped into a prophylactic, perpetuating the national stereotype that we are either private school educated, swan raping poshos or benefit scrounging, state raping oiks.

Addressing this issue in a rather subtle way is Attack the Block, an alien invasion movie set in the repressive confines of a south London towerblock which protrudes into the night sky like a depressing concrete choad. It may be billed as ‘From the producers of Shaun of the Dead’ and come from the mind of one half of Adam and Joe, but it is not a spoof or even a comedy in the traditional sense. Having said that there are laughs to be dredged from the localised pop culture references, so American audiences will have to adjust their social spectrums and pretend they understand the jaunty youth patois which makes up the dialogue. Think of it as a favour returned for years of us Brits having to deal with Hollywood films filled with references to Twinkies, Tacco Bells and other cultural artefacts which haven’t made it across the gratifying expanse of the ‘Pond’.

Attack the Block takes place on a single evening in November, with the Bonfire night festivities first providing the perfect cover for a mugging and then for the arrival of extra terrestrial landing pods. The fresh faced group of mini-miscreants kill the first alien that arrives and parade its corpse around the neighbourhood, but to fend off the attacks from the increasing number of neon-toothed invaders who seem to be remorselessly targeting their crew, they have to team up with the woman they victimised. Drug dealers and social politics have to be dealt with in tandem with the marauding black beasts and violence and gore rears its head in a restrained enough way to retain the visceral impact.

While the accuracy of the language used by the youths and their muddled moral attitudes have a feeling of realism in amongst the preposterous alien assault, a couple of incongruous characters slightly detract from this otherwise well rounded movie. Nick Frost’s greasy pot seller and the floppy-haired middle class white boy customer who are thrust into it feel too caricatured, ultimately distracting from rather than adding to the film’s message. Quite what that message is is in the eye of the beholder, and if you are looking for a brief, tense, claustrophobic romp then you can definitely find it. Of course that description might also be applied to anal sex, which says more about my psyche than Attack the Block’s intentions.

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