Philip French called it ‘the best British horror movie for some while’ Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block (2011) is the most entertaining piece of nonsense I’ve seen for a very long time. It starts with Sam (Jodie Whittaker) leaving the Oval underground station at Kennington South London after a late shift at the hospital, its firework night. During her short journey to her home on the local Wyndham Tower estate where she lives in a tower block, five mixed race hoodies mug her. While the gang is carrying out this horrendous crime a large fiery object falls from the sky laying waste a parked car. Sam manages to escape the attention of the hoodies while the youths set about and kill a creature they suspect to be an alien. More gorilla-like creatures’ fall to earth in what looks like an invasion, which begs the question why, are alien’s from a far away place invading a South London tower block? Soon it’s all out war as the films great tag line suggests “Inner City Vs. Outer Space” Who will rule the turf when the dust finally settles?
Yet another great debut from a British director who puts a inventive spin to the horror genre (see also Gareth Edwards Monsters (2010)) Cornish has previously worked as a writer on Steven Spielberg and Peter Jacksons TinTin due in 2015. Besides Jodie Whittaker and Nick Frost who plays Ron whose council flat includes an ultra-secure cannabis factory, the film is populated by some young non-professional first time actors who perform Cornish’s and Frost’s humorous dialogue with great panache, although they probably now their own vernacular better than most people?
|Sam (Jodie Whittaker)|
It’s quite strange how you take these bad boys to heart, that is the strength of film, Cornish’s film does not judge or dictate to his audience but there are some nice touches where you realise the humanity buried inside what you originally thought were just nondescript thugs. Sam, at first the victim, is forced by circumstances to join forces with the crew, she discovers that the main man Moses, played with a lot of class by John Boyega, is really just a young boy with a Spiderman duvet cover. The distrust of authorities is inbred, shown when Moses announces that the alien invasion, in his opinion, is a government sponsored plot to wipe out London’s black population. (I wouldn’t put anything passed this government!)
There’s never a dull moment in this action packed sci-fi comedy drama and along with Richard Ayoade’s Submarine (2010) or Chris Morris’s Four Lions (2010) or even Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008) it shows a lot of promise for Britain’s up and coming non-traditional modern directorial school. Again I can’t wait to see where Mr Cornish will go from here? As an aside, the US distributers are concerned that American audiences, and some probable nearer home, may not understand the South London accents or the hoodie terminology and they may have to provide subtitles, as long as they don’t spoil the complete movie by dubbing the soundtrack as they did when Bill Forsyth’s That Sinking Feeling (1980) was released on DVD completely ruining his film.