Friday, January 6, 2012

Film Review: Attack the Block

An ode in many ways, to John Carpenter's classic 1976 subversive genre work Assault on Precinct 13 - so much so in fact, that there is no way in hell that writer-director Joe Cornish is not a fan of the aforementioned Carpenter pic - the UK hit import Attack the Block takes the typically B-movie idea of the alien invasion film, tosses it on its head and hands us its deconstructed carcass like a trophy of its cinematic bravura and chutzpah.  In other words, I really really liked this movie - and you probably should too.

Starting out on the dangerous streets of a South London project on what appears to be Guy Fawkes Night, as the fireworks sis boom bah through the night, a gang of five masked teenage hoodlums mug a young woman walking back to her flat, only to be interrupted mid-mugging by a falling projectile that demolishes a parked car nearby.  Needless to say this is the beginning of an alien invasion that ends up forcing muggers and muggee, along with the local drug lord and a pair of seemingly clueless potheads (one played by the ubiquitously goofball Nick Frost) and a couple of cocksure little kid gangbanger wannabes, to team up and save the planet - or at least save the block since it appears to be an extremely localized alien invasion.  With alien beasts replacing the L.A. gang members of Carpenter's Precinct 13 (which in essence were just that director's answer to the walking dead in Night of the Living Dead), and with a tongue-in-cheek satiric tone (Edgar 'Shaun of the Dead' Wright acts as exec producer), Attack the Block is a real kick in the head - for genre fans and non-fanboys alike.

As the hulking, black-furred aliens, impossibly giant sets of fangs glowing in the dark like fluorescent shards of impending death (think the gargoyles from Ghostbusters mixed with the blackest of black bears and something out of an acid-induced Dark Crystal nightmare), make their way into this towering den of iniquity, trapping our not-so-intrepid heroes inside with only each other, enemy and friend alike, to count on, Cornish's film - his directorial feature debut btw - becomes more and more claustrophobic and more and more dangerous.  Fighting the seemingly inevitable destruction of the world, or at least the titular block, collateral and non-collateral damage being ripped to shreds through the halls and elevators around them, this ragtag band of survivors - again, much aligned to the same sort of doomed group from the aforementioned Carpenter classic - Attack the Block is a nearly non-stop adrenaline rush from start to finish.  All-in-all, pretty fucking nifty for such a supposedly B-picture mentality - or perhaps pretty fucking nifty because of its B-picture mentality.

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