Attack the Block

Attack the Block
It's actually a very interesting basic premise: primitive barbaric alien invaders versus juvenile London street gangs… At least it's a whole lot more interesting than aliens versus cowboys, which is a concept that some big shots in Hollywood also tried recently. And straight from the opening sequences, it's made clear that the film's main strong point will become character authenticity. "Attack the Block" is set in South London, where writer/director Joe Cornish also actually grew up, and opens immediately with the assault of a young woman by a an aggressive and lawless gang of underage hoodlums. The sequence is very realistic, especially if you watch the news bulletins every now and then, and because of the assailants' ages also deeply disturbing. But hey, that's just the way it is nowadays… Kids, barely fifteen or sixteen year old, are roaming the big European city streets at night and don't hesitate to rob, injury, rape or even murder other civilians for a small sum of money. This exact same bunch of youthful thugs subsequently then goes to war against an underdeveloped race of alien invaders that literally comes falling out of the sky like meteors. It is here already that the film's main strong point threatens to become a giant obstacle. Are we supposed to cheer for teenage thugs that narrowly just mugged and gang-raped an innocent women? Are we supposed to feel empathy when they look as terrified of the aliens as their victims look terrified of them? But director Joe Cornish and his cast of inexperienced youngsters surprisingly enough accomplish that we gradually (very gradually at the beginning) go from tolerating the protagonists to actually rooting for them. At the end of the film, the protagonists are still scumbags, but at least they demonstrated courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice. And besides, it's not like you can cheer for the aliens in this case, neither… They aren't well organized and super-intelligent beings with a detailed plan to take over our planet, but primitive canine beasts with fluorescent blue teeth and impenetrable black fur. The characters refer to pretty much every semi-classical Sci-Fi/Fantasy flick to describe them ("Gremlins", "Lord of the Rings", "Harry Potter") but the aliens actually look the most like a crossover between "Critters" and "American Werewolf in London". ""Attack the Block" contains plenty of bloody action and harsh violence, but sadly the film rapidly gets boring and repetitive. There's a lack of variance in decors and filming locations (the aliens literally just attack the block and nothing else) and all too often director Cornish wants to imitate the raw impact of "Assault on Precinct 13". Nick Frost is, in fact, rather redundant as the über-relaxed weed dealer, but it's presumably thanks to his name on the posters that many genre fans wanted to see the film. Along with Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright (here the executive producer), Nick Frost uplifted the British horror and cult industry with "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz". The concept gimmick is original and dared, the performances are as good as natural and there are a handful of terrific Sci-Fi/horror sequences, but overall seen "Attack the Block" remains a modest and forgettable effort.