It’s a complete film
In Attack the Block, a bunch of hairy black aliens from outer space invade a South London council estate and come up against a gang of teenage troublemakers. It may not seem like a tantalising scenario for the serious film buff but this is a wonderfully complete movie that will leave you jubilant. Three cheers for writer/director Joe Cornish for this debut film. (Cornish also co-wrote Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin.)
The glow-in-the-dark teeth, the lumbering way they move, their eyelessness, their acute sense of smell: there are so many things that make the aliens a joy to watch. A lot of computer grunt went into them, but naturally they started as men in suits.
The kids are great
Most of the fantastic young cast were found at drama classes at London council estate schools because the creative team wanted them to be as like the characters as possible. Producer Nira Park – who also produced Shaun of the Dead – has said that the creative team saw 1500 kids and those they chose went through up to eight auditions. It is one explanation of why each character has so much personality and individuality. (You’ve got to laugh: Cornish based the stoner character on himself in his 20s.) Charismatic gang leader Moses, played by John Boyega, has considerable on-screen presence and I’m sure he’ll go far. Just look at his composure in this interview soon after Attack the Block became a worldwide hit. Oh, and you’re going to love the antics of the two young aspiring gang members. Often secondary characters let a film down, but that is certainly not the case here.
And so is the music
Credit where credit is due: the original score by Steven Price and electronic dance group Basement Jaxx is exceptional.
Literary types take note
For a bit of fun on the side, watch for the references to science fiction writers. One case: Wyndham Estates, where most of the characters live, refers to John Wyndham, who wrote The Day of the Triffids.
Non-US hits are always worth celebrating
It’s great when a film aimed at young cinemagoers challenges the might of Hollywood and succeeds. Attack the Block got a lot of traction at the US festival South by Southwest and a lot of clever follow-up marketing: the US distributor held simultaneous free screenings across two dozen cities, for example.