MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Attack the Block got a strange reception. It received lukewarm reviews in its homeland of Britain and ended up going under many people’s radars, but found rave reviews upon its release in the US, making it an unlikely success across the pond despite its thick South London patois.The film begins with a woman being mugged by a gang on a council estate, before things start to get even more monstrous. The film features an ensemble cast full of inexperienced young actors who do a great job. The pace never really drops: there’s plenty of monster chases, chances for redemption and a lot of humour thanks to a good mix of characters who have to form unlikely allegiances. Fresh, charismatic and charming, Attack the Block has it all.
Attack the Block is the directorial debut of Joe Cornish who also wrote the script, spending much time with ‘urban’ kids in preparation for a film littered with a London dialect. Ok, so when you’ve got a middle aged white guy trying to write ‘street’ it’s never going to sound perfect, and yes it does feel a bit stilted at times but it also has a natural charm and certainly a wit which is so strong it managed to amuse American audiences despite being written in what’s effectively a foreign language. It is funny, maybe not big laughs but certainly plenty of entertainment.
It’s definitely much more comedy than it is horror. Yes, it’s about a monster attack and there are a couple of jumps but the monsters are very cartoony (perhaps a budget saving exercise) but as so often happens when you’re saving the pennies you come out with something better. The monsters don’t really matter and the vibrance of the characters can shine through. When it tries to make a deeper social statement the lines are delivered like they’re throwaway which keeps it feeling subtle and poigant.
It’s not perfect. The lack of grief at fallen friends is something that would normally really bother me but for some reason, it was so entertaining I could look past it and excuse it with the place the film decided to end.
Well done Joe Cornish, America was right.
Attack the Block i out now on DVD. Running time 88 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
Review by David Rank