Having never been to London, what I know of it comes from television and film: fish and chips, strawberries and cream; a love for tennis and football. They have funny accents and use weird words like ‘bobby’ instead of ‘policeman’, ‘boot’ for ‘trunk’, and ‘shag’ for ‘sex’. And now, after watching Attack the Block, I know not to fuck with their inner city youth – especially if you’re from another planet.
It’s a typical day at work for Moses and his crew. As night falls, they hide in the shadows like an intrusion of cockroaches, wrecking havoc on unsuspecting passerbys in the hopes of snatching a watch, or some loose change. Sam (Jodie Whitaker) is the unlucky victim; she is held-up at knife-point and relieved of her belongings. In the middle of the assault, a meteorite pierces the calm sky, slamming into a nearby parked car.
Amid the chaos, Sam escapes, leaving the thugs to deal with the fallen debris. Moses searches the car for money. Instead he greeted by a creature, and a scratch across the face. In retaliation, he and his friends track down the beast and kill it, later, proudly showing it off to a group of girls (Because nothing says love like an alien carcass.) Soon after, they travel back to their public housing (the block), to show their prize to Ron (Nick Frost), a man with a love for National Geographic, and a heavy supply of weed.
Their information session is soon interrupted as more alien-ites rain down upon fair London, and the boys — feeling particularly tough after dispatching of the first one — head out to bag some more. Baseball bats, samurai swords (awesome) and fireworks (odd) are grabbed for added support. Problems arise when this batch of baddies turn out to be bigger, blacker and have fluorescent glowing mouths. In a nutshell: the gang hightails it, Moses is pinched by the cops, the cops get killed by the extraterrestrials, everyone escapes back to the block to regroup.
The film’s climax is a thrilling battle between teen and monster. The confines of the apartments are prison-like. The lack of space emphasizes the claustrophobia, only amplified by the presence of the hulking razor-toothed beasts. Ample amounts of blood is let (this is a horror film after all); losses happen on both fronts. Block was directed by Joe Cornish – a writer-comedian associated with the Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) troupe. This is his debut, and an adept one at that. Audiences at the SXSW Festival in early March caught the premiere and it has since caught fire. It opens in limited markets in late July. You should run to the theatres as quickly as these kids run from the bestial foreigners.
Most enjoyable is the fact that Block is equal parts eerie and humourous. Invasion meets situational comedy. I look forward to future viewings to (possibly with the subtitles on) catch more of the native dialect. Moses epitomizes the role of anti-hero. What begins as a means to preserve his own skin, soon morphs into a last stand to protect his turf and friends (and the world?). When trouble arises, I’d love to have him on my side, as long as I left my wristwatch at home. If that fails, there’s always Ron’s weed room.