Attack the Block is one of my most anticipated films of the year. From the moment I heard that we were to be treated to one of those rare beasts – a British genre film – and one directed by Joe Cornish, no less, I was excited.
Many people – most people, I suppose – will not know who Cornish is. I know him as one half of Adam and Joe, a comedy duo I’ve been following since my early teens and who I always considered very much to be ‘my kind of people’.
‘The Adam and Joe’ show ran during the 90s, late at night on Channel 4. The show was made up of the pop-culture fueled ramblings of two guys who appeared to create the show in a small London bedsit. It featured numerous movie parodies and sketches, including the awesome Bobby Deniro song and countless ‘toy movies’, such as this one here.
So clearly Cornish is a movie geek / enthusiast, and as such, the ideal person to be in the directing chair for a genre movie like this. Without wishing to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, most science fiction-type films released in the last couple of decades (Battle for LA, for example) forget about such minor details as cinematography, characterisation and scripting. Cornish is part of a generation who grew up on genre films that understood that special effects alone do not make a movie worth while.
Watching ‘Attack the Block’ it is also apparent that this is one of those films (such as Jaws, Shaun of the Dead or the recent Monsters) that uses a restricted budget to its favour and might actually be a better film for it. Every scene maintains momentum and progresses the story. Every shot is considered and cinematic.
The film begins with a lady being mugged in a south London suburb. The gang of youths – not unlike groups I have seen myself late at night in London, before turning around and taking a different route home – are distracted from the business at hand when some kind of creature crashes violently to earth and decides to get involved in the ruckus. The encounter starts a chain of events that leads to these kids defending their council estate ‘block’ against a horde of aliens.
All aspects of this film – the virtually unknown cast (plus a welcome appearance from Nick Frost), the honest and funny script, the unusual and effective monster design, the confident and economical direction – come together to create a film that has little in the way of flaws. It’s fun and thoughtful at the same time. It uses its scant budget to create a real feeling of pace and scale. I’m exceedingly proud of Joe Cornish for making this happen and hope very much that this film kickstarts a long and productive career.