Attack the Block (15)

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Review byMatthew Turner13/05/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Joe Cornish's entertaining feature debut is an intriguing idea and has some nice moments but it also suffers from a problematic approach to its characters and is neither as funny or as scary as it should have been.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Joe Cornish, Attack the Block begins with a group of hoodies – leader Moses (John Boyega), wise-cracking Pest (Alex Esmail), tough guy Dennis (Franz Drameh), specky Jerome (Leeon Jones) and nervous Biggz (Simon Howard) – mugging trainee nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) on a South London estate. Shortly afterwards, they're attacked by a mysterious furry black creature, which they promptly beat to death and take to the 19th floor flat of local drug dealer Ron (Nick Frost) for identification purposes.

However, things quickly go from bad to worse as the gang realise that their dead creature is just the beginning of a full-scale alien invasion. Soon, dozens of furry black creatures with glow-in-the-dark teeth are converging on their tower block and the gang will have to join forces with Sam, posh stoner Brewis (Luke Treadaway) and local gangster Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) in order to fight them off.

The Good
The cast of newcomers acquit themselves nicely, even if their personalities aren't quite distinct enough outside of Moses and Pest (it's a good thing one of them wears glasses). Whittaker is good too and there's amusing comic support from Treadaway, who makes the most of his lazily written, one-note character, while Frost provides a reassuring presence as Ron.

The Bad
The film's main problem is that it has a problematic attitude towards its characters: on the one hand it sets them up as unlikeable people to be killed off, slasher-movie style and on the other it wants us to like them and to root for them to succeed, with neither approach quite coming off. In addition, in seeking to avoid samey-looking CGI creatures, Cornish has gone too far towards the stunt-man-in-a-silly-suit option and the creatures aren't really scary enough as a result, luminous teeth or no luminous teeth.

Similarly, as well as an absence of genuinely scary moments (there are a few cheap shocks) and a general lack of tension, the script is surprisingly lazy when it comes to the jokes, opting for the easy option and even resorting to repeating the same (unfunny) lines.

Worth seeing?
Attack the Block is lively and entertaining throughout but the writing is a little messy in places and it's neither as funny nor as scary as it thinks it is.

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Attack the Block (15)
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Content updated: 26/09/2015 07:51

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