So, this weekend I skipped the complex struggle, the natural duality between an expensive, Hollywood spectacle and a paint-by-numbers kiddie alternative: Cowboys Vs. Aliens and The Smurfs. Instead, I went with the limited release of Attack the Block, a film about inner city kids surviving against a very localized alien invasion of their London housing estate.
Instead of going for cheap thrills, laughs and stereotypes, Attack actually provides depth for its characters, an initially unsympathetic group of teenage thugs. Though they are rampunctious muggers and ne’er-do-wells, their camraderie and a glimpse into their home life provides a subtext of class consciousness bubbling underneath the seemingly straightforward sci-fi/horror narrative. The kids ARE thugs, but they’re still kids (and played by kids … not twenty-somethings pretending to be teenagers) who reveal their strength as a close-knit group, a separate family. They evince a pride for their own particular community as their situation gets grimmer and grimmer, winning over their reluctant ally, the woman they had mugged early in the movie, and the audience at the same time. It’s like The Monster Squad or Goonies, only without the ‘burbs … or the nards:
Plus, I have to give props to the alien design. Instead of too much flash, gore or biomechanical wizardry, the shadowy form of the invading menace, darker than the absence of light except glowing eyes and teeth, was a nice touch.
It’s definitely a recommended movie with a couple of caveats. People who have trouble undertanding accents in films may have trouble keeping up with both the accents and the slang used amongst the youths. There is also a fair amount of gory violence for anyone who might feel squeamish over such things. Anyway, Attack the Block smartly entertaining, funny and scary all at the same time. Text your friends about it.