Attack the Block

Attack the Block ★★★

For some reason I had been putting off watching Attack The Block for several months. Quite often, I think, you are presented with the reasons early on in the film as to why you might have been doing that.

Trainee nurse Jodie Whittaker is mugged by a gang of teens on a London housing estate, a mugging that is broken up when a meteor hits a car nearby and releases a hairy alien that they manage to kill. But there are plenty more where that came from and soon they are holed up in their apartment block trying to fend off hundreds of the buggers.

You see, lots of films start off with a cad who becomes a hero over the course of a film and earns his or her redemption, but there was something quite unnerving and at odds with what is supposed to be quite a jovial horror-comedy, especially as said mugging involved an assault and threats with a knife. After that, I really don't care how heroic these turds are. The film's going to have a lot of work to do from there on in.

Attack The Block hints that it might have the tools to do that, but constantly hauls itself back by the collar by regularly having its characters expressing no remorse for their original actions until the very end of the film. I think it's more or less a personal thing - while I don't mind flawed heroes at all, this film doesn't really do enough to redeem them.

It also doesn't help that it isn't actually that funny, once again hauling itself back by the pants when it tries to be all serious faced about council estate crime, social issues and the police, and essentially putting the kaibosh on any attempts at humour. It's a muddle of different tones and would have been much better off going completely comedic or opting for a more brutal horror style. It just gets stuck between the two stalls, a regular problem for horror-comedies.

It does have plenty of plus points, though. Whittaker is impressive and sparky in her role, and all the kids spit their lines out with plenty of conviction and realism. Nick Frost plays, well, Nick Frost but seems to be operating at a level somewhat below his double acts with Simon Pegg, and probably the best performer here is Luke Treadaway as a wannabe-street student stoner.

The music is fantastic, too, with some nice little snippets playing as homages to the music of John Carpenter, with his influences playing out in other ways in the film, too, with Assault On Precinct 13 and The Thing notably referenced. The effects were also extremely impressive for a British film with the creatures looking really great and different, plus there are one or two really good action scenes if nothing especially original.

It's one of those films that is far, far from bad but it's also one of those films that is more frustrating in a way because it could so easily have been extremely good if it could have settled on being one thing or the other. Also, considering it was Joe Cornish directing, I was pretty disappointed that there wasn't a Baaaad Dad cameo.

Steve G liked these reviews