Attack the block: A group of South London teens find an extraterrestrial being, stab it to death, then form an unlikely alliance with a nurse they’ve just mugged. Not a thematically accurate synopsis, but a brief description of the opening to this comedy/sci-fi.
The film is set almost entirely in a single location, a tower block somewhere in South London – ‘The Block’. Thus Attack the Block is, necessarily, a character driven film. Each character has an important relationship to Moses (John Boyega, the protagonist). Even characters who seem thrown in for ‘comic relief’, or for no reason at all, develop our understanding of Moses: Hi-Hatz, the local drug-lord, is the only person – or thing – Moses is scared of; and Probs and Mayhem, two naive and excitable kids who carry a water pistol and a toy gun as defence, show the past so close behind when Moses ups real weapons and takes on the alien attack.
There are three generations in the film are: Probs and Mayhem, naive and excitable, carrying a water pistol and a toy gun as defence; Moses and his friends, Moses who’s pressured into selling cocaine by Hi-Hatz and who goes from pride to guilt over the first alien he killed; and Hi-Hatz, the local drug-lord, who seeks revenge after Moses crashes into his ‘whip’ while on the run from the aliens. Each stage seems to be another step towards the stereotypical role young people from their socioeconomic background are, so unfairly, thrust into.
The film does touch on some socially conscious points, like Moses’ speech exclaiming ‘Feds sent them … First they sent in drugs, then they sent guns and now they’re sending monsters in to kill us … We ain’t killing each other fast enough.’ However, these moments are laughed off, and the pacing doesn’t even allow the most adept of filmgoers to appreciate these moments until the film finishing washing over them.
Visually the film has little to offer say for some amusing homages to the British Sci-fi and horror genres. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with the visuals, and working in such a simple location doesn’t easily allow visual interest.
In conclusion, this film is the creation of a screenwriter making a foray into directing and not doing a bad job; it’s funny, the characters are interesting, but it’s tame and doesn’t explore the social issue it touches upon – which I believe it could do without detracting from the light humour of the film, simply through more emotive direction.