“Attack the Block”, or “Innit Blud” by Caitlin McGrane

Posted on March 27, 2012

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I’m not a fan of monster films, finding them mostly unbelievably boring and predictable (two things I cannot abide). However, when my dad rang from the streets of Bogota in Columbia, I was not expecting him to suggest we go and see Attack the Block as a family when he returned home. The major draw: it was at the Westgarth cinema (round the corner from my house – hurrah), and there would be a Q&A with director, Joe Cornish afterward.

To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. This film was marvellous!

It begins on the streets of London (aesthetically more like Snatch than Made in Chelsea), and follows a young nurse, Sam (Jodie Whittaker) as she walks home. Rounding a corner she sees what most London-folk dread, a gang of ‘youths’/ ‘hoodies’. They proceed to nick all her stuff (what we would call a mugging), then sod off, leaving her shaken. Not exactly a great start, but it doesn’t feel really threatening (the kids look seriously young). Indeed the opening is based on Joe Cornish’s own experience of being mugged by a bunch of teenage boys (and his lack of fear).

The Block, innit?

Then the monsters arrive. And it’s not a typical monster film. In fact, it’s hilarious. As the gang of boys become increasingly aware of the monsters and their glow-in-the-dark teeth, so too they realise that their actions have unforeseen consequences. Sam and the boys (played with wonderful wit by John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, Franz Drameh and Simon Howard) battle the monsters; while wannabe posh-boys Brewis (Luke Treadaway) and Ron (Nick Frost) proceed to get stoned and “wait for all this to blow over”… you can tell it’s produced by the people who brought us the perfect Shaun of the Dead.

There is a reasonable amount of realistic blood-and-guts horror, and the monsters can give you a bit of a fright, but I watched the whole film with a feeling of fun. The boys see the whole night as an adventure and I’ll say it again, it’s bloody funny. Joe Cornish actually went round and interviewed kids who live on these kinds of estates in London, with some of their quotations ending up in the film (eg. “I just want to go home, hide under my covers and play FIFA” and “I don’t want no Chlamydia”). There is even a sense of social justice about the film too, as Moses (John Boyega) is forced to receive drugs from a particularly nasty gangster-type, Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter).

The alien invaders!

The main cast are relatively unknown actors, but they give terrific performances. My personal favourites were two small kids called Probs and Mayhem (Sammy Williams and Michael Ajao) for whom the estate is their playground and give, for me, the best line in the film: “No one is ever going to call you Mayhem if you keep acting like a complete pussy”.

Lastly though, I must mention the soundtrack done by Basement Jaxx. The drum and bass sound is perfect for the kids riding on mopeds wielding Samurai swords, machetes and kitchen knives attempting to vanquish the monsters who have invaded their home.

I implore you to see this film, not for me though, but because it is well sick innit bruv.

Attack the Block is released on DVD in Australia on the 4th of April, 2012.

Caitlin McGrane is a regular YDE contributor. For some more of her similarly English fare have a look at her review of The Inbetweeners Movie.

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Posted in: Movies