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Movie Screening: Attack The Block

Don’t F**k With The Block!

Attack the Block: a new kind of neighbourhood watch where the topic of discussion is how to rid the ‘endz’ of a new breed of hooligan; the extra-terrestrial kind. This is a thrilling action feature about alien invasion, a sci-fi horror film set in the south of the capital where teenagers are no longer the scariest things on the streets, becoming the hunted. The film’s writer/director Joe Cornish uses his first production to infuse his love for 1980s monster movies like Critters, The Goonies and Gremlins; as well as such films of gang warfare as The Warriors and Rumble Fish; that were highly popular with teenagers during this time, to create an exciting blend of original and contemporary. Attack the Block is a reinvention of theses cult classics, adapted for a modern audience with its relevant themes and good use of CGI that celebrates and revives the kids’ movies of the yesteryear.

The film made me wish that I was from south London, for a very brief moment, by producing a fresh and witty present-day ‘gangster’ film that for once didn’t highlight the consistently negative assumption about the region and its people. You believe that Stockwell and Brixton are cool areas to grow up in and ironically, he even makes them look like safe places to live, where the locals are so dedicated to protecting their area and the rest of the community. This is achieved by steering the narrative away from pessimism and towards a satirical humour through the hilarious dialogue. Cornish manages to distract the audience with likable characters that are far from the terrorists that they’re perceived to be in the beginning; they are in fact good people. This notion is reinforced by TV drama favourite Jodie Whitaker (St. Trinian’s), through her role as the victim of the gang’s deviant behaviour, we as the audience see her change her justified dismissive opinions in a twist of fate where she is forced to make an alliance with them. It is from her perspective that we witness the troublesome teens’ representation shift from initial villains to saviours. This is emphasised at the end of the film where in a pivotal moment with the police, she comes to their defence, changed by the unlikely events of the night.

Although very funny, Attack the Block refuses to be labelled as a mere comedy and is not to be confused for one. This is mostly due to its serious undertone generated by the current perilous situation of the five teenagers that pretty much begins straight away, coupled with the horrific death scenes and strong message of community. The only comedic aspect comes from the characterisation, rather than the plot itself, particularly that of Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) and Luke Treadaway (Clash of the Titans and The Whistleblower). It does however avoid glamorising criminal behaviour or hostility towards another; instead it inspires a sense of goodwill, friendship and responsibility. Joe Cornish cleverly uses the threat of an alien killer species to identify important issues concerning the young involved in gang violence triggered by crime, discrimination and racism from the authorities and brings back the vigilante film to British cinema for all. It was refreshing to not be constantly reminded of how society has broken-down communication with its youth and how we are failing as a nation to keep the streets safe. Cornish is able to successfully unite the young, the old and those of us in their prime, by appealing to both a working and middle class audience through good movie-making.

Whatever you do next month, make sure you see Attack the Block, out in cinemas nationwide from May 13th. It’s a definite contender for one of the best British movies of the year so far; a bold statement I know, but then you get my point.

Have a look at the official trailer below:

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