I was familiar with Joe Cornish from radio and TV working with long time partner Adam Buxton. This made me definitely want to see how his first film would turn out. I was a bit apprehensive but still confident it would be worth it. I am glad that to say that this is a really is an impressive and entertaining debut film
The films opens with young nurse Sam Jodie Whittaker walking home alone. It must be November 5th because there are fireworks going off all over the city. She starts going down one very quiet then sees a crowd of teenage boys. Then they spot her. She tries just keep walking to brazen it out but they surround her and the leader Moses (John Boyega) pulls out knife and takes his scarf off his face and demands her purse. She sees she is helpless and hands it over.
Just then something falls down from outer space and smashes into a car right next to them. Moses goes into the wreckage to see what caused it. He gets attacked by a strange creature which scratches his face and runs off into the nearby park. While the boys are distracted Sam runs off. Moses is angry about being attacked so they go after the creature and find it hiding in a park hut. After shooting fireworks at it they all pile in and attack it, killing it. Yeah, these are our protagonists. In an interview Joe Cornish revealed that part of the inspiration was being mugged himself by a gang of boys just like these.
They take the body with them back to the tower block that they all live in Wyndham Tower, which is the same one Sam lives in too but none of them know this yet. Outside they meet two younger boys who insist on being called Probs and Mayhem and want to hang around with the older boys but they get firmly rejected. Moses and his gang know the creature is alien and are hoping it might be worth money.
The take it to Ron’s (Nick Frost) flat on the top floor because he watches the Discovery Channel. Ron is a stoner who runs a fortified cannabis growing room for a real gangster Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) who is there rapping with one of his henchmen. Moses hands the stuff they stole from Sam over to Hi-Hatz who gives him a pack of drugs to sell for him, drawing Moses in deeper to crime. He really has no time for them blathering abut aliens and lets them the store the body in the growing room.
Brewis (Luke Treadaway) a friend and customer of Ron’s is there too and he has a look at the alien and he confirm the obvious that it is like nothing else they’ve ever seem before. Brewis is an out-of-place posh boy and really makes a dick of himself trying to act cool around the boys. Outside they see whole load more lights falling from the sky. They are excited by having more aliens to hunt and rush from Ron’s to get geared up for a battle. We get to see a bit of Pest (Alex Esmail), Jerome (Leeon Jones), Dennis (Franz Drameh) and Biggz’s (Simon Howard) home life but don’t see any of Moses’.
They head out to the park where the saw the lights landing. The see one that died on landing and it is much bigger and nastier than the one they killed before. Dennis had been ordered to take the dog for a walk and the dog is straining at the leash to go after something in the darkness. It breaks free and runs at something and we hear pathetic yelp as it is killed. They see a big black shape coming towards them with lights that at first they think are eyes but are actually big glowing blue teeth. The boys all run away back towards the block.
Meanwhile Sam has gone to the police to report her mugging. Two policemen take her out in their van to look around for the boys. They spot Moses running and they catch him and shove him in the cage at the back their van. Not only does Sam identify him as her mugger but he was caught with a sock full of drugs.One of the creature appears and slaughters both of the policemen, then tries to find a way into the van. Sam gets in the back next to Moses out of its way. The other boys come to Moses’ rescue using fireworks to run the creature off, while Dennis gets in the van. He frees Moses from the cage but Sam locks herself in the cage thinking that boys killed the policemen. Dennis drives off followed by the other boys on their motorbikes down into an underground parking area, where he smashes into Hi-Hatz car head first. Moses lets Sam out of the back and tells her to get to safety.
Hi-Hatz is very angry and he really doesn’t want them to tell him about aliens. When they hear a creature approaching he sends his henchman to investigate and he gets killed very quickly. Hi-Hatz shoots the creature dead and the boys use the distraction to get away. Creatures chase them all the way back to the block and Biggz gets split off and trapped inside an empty bin with one creature outside trying to get in.
The others make it back to Wyndham Tower but Pest’s leg gets ripped open by a creature. They drag him into the block and just spot Sam going into her flat and they force their way in. She is sceptical about their story of alien creatures but agrees to patch up Pest’s leg. Something bangs at her door and a creature breaks through into the flat. Moses strikes it through the head with a sword and it dies instantly. The boys try to figure out what to do next while Sam sneaks away but she hears the sound of several creatures prowling around in the block and decides she’s safer sticking with the boys.
Criminal teenage gangs are really strange protagonists to choose. At the start you agree with old woman who gives a Sam a cup of tea to help her relax who wants them all locked up. Later on their mask of bravado gives way to genuine acts of courage. Pest will either grow on you or drive you crazy because he will not shut up. The young unknown cast are very convincing, especially the boys playing Pest and Moses. The dialogue sounds very authentic.
For a low-budget film like this the alien creatures seemed pretty effective. They are big creatures covered in deep black hair with a maw of blue glowing teeth and no other visible features. I know it is guys in costumes but its a pretty smart costume design that allows a nice realistic feel the to the motion of the creatures. The scene of them seeing the creatures outside of a window high up the block was so good they did it twice.
I see people refer to this film as a comedy horror and I think is misleading. There is quite bit of humour in the film but I don’t think it is a comedy. I think it is more of a science fiction creature feature. I really enjoyed it and look forward to seeing Joe direct more films in the future. I’d also not mind seeing more of the boys.
- Review: Attack the Block (cinematicheavenandhell.wordpress.com)
- Movie Review: Attack the Block (filmophilia.com)
- “Attack the Block”: Aliens in the hood, London-style (salon.com)