For a first time directorial effort Attack The Block is a fantastic production. Managing to balance the spinning plates of scary and funny, performed with a cast of unknown actors it provides a very gripping cinema experience.
The film takes a brave stance with it’s opening – it depicts a young woman leaving a tube station to walk home and getting mugged on the way. During the mugging a fiery object falls destroying a car which distracts the gangs attention, allowing the woman to run away. At this point the film starts to follow the gang who was mugging the woman as they begin to repel an Alien invasion of South East London.
The journey that follows is an interesting one with the film having to take the characters who start of as more antagonists and then make them likeable characters whilst at the same time there’s the story of the alien invasion taking place. This is quite effectively achieved – I don’t think you can name one part of the film where you start rooting for the kids but the film gets you there and it really helps that the characters are all very fleshed out and developed to the extent they are.
The design of the creatures in the film is also fantastic – I could understand the temptation to go overboard on CG and leading to something that while is visually impressive comes replete with flaws and distracts you from the film. The creatures in this film are pitch black, so black you don’t see any detail – which leads to some fantastic shots as they creep through shadows/are silhouetted against the London backdrop. Add to these the only feature that does show – the bio-luminescent teeth and you have a very effective creature – especially when charging across a dark common towards the main characters.
The film uses it’s locations well – utilising what is available to it to create some fantastically tense set pieces – the scene where the characters are edging down a smoke filled corridor, knowing that they are being chased but unsure as to where the creatures are due to the smoke that they are hoping will also mark their presence is fantastic, building in tension, edging you to the edge of your seat.
As the film went on I found myself enjoying it more and more, if I’m honest when I went in I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it at all. What came out was a taunt thrilling story leaving space for a couple of jokes and action sequences. The biggest comparisons in the press for this film seem to be Shaun of the Dead and Gremelins. I don’t think either of these are really fair – both films are shot as dark comedies whereas Attack The Block is intended to be received in a different way – the jokes coming from the characters as a method of coping rather than specifically for the audiences benefit. The film also carries a message within it – some of the most hitting scenes being smaller quieter ones where the kids get to talk and you see things from their side. Theres a couple of moments like this towards the end of the film that really hit home a strong message.
This film is hopefully the first of many from a first-time director who seems to know what they’re doing and have got their own tricks of the trade. If you get the chance to see this then take it. Films like this one don’t come along that often.