Kicking off with the unsettling mugging of trainee nurse Sam (Jodie Whittaker) by a gang of South London hoodies, Attack the Block quickly shifts tone into fantastical realms when a hideous looking little ET crashes onto a nearby car. The hoodies waste no time in battering it to death, which prompts the alien's larger and terrifying comrades to pay the neighbourhood a visit. Plenty of bloodshed and carnage ensues in and around the tower block in which the tooled-up hoodies are holed up. But can an unlikely allegiance with their victim Sam, stoner Brewis (Luke Treadaway) and drug dealer Ron (Nick Frost) prove to be the only means of survival?
The character development between the mugged nurse and her hooded marauders provides a solid foundation of urban realism upon which Cornish layers on plenty of visual japes, verbal wisecracks and gory shocks. Jodie Whittaker thrives as the heroine, who is understandably distressed without ever resorting to the sexist shrieking and clothes-shedding that often permeates female leads in this genre. Nick Frost expertly channels the weed-infused persona of druggie Danny from Withnail & I, while the young hoodlums (many of whom have soft centres) all come across as authentic rather than Blazin' Squad style stage school brats trying to act 'street'.
Attack the Block is by no means flawless, however. It lacks the sustained excitement, hysteria and inspiration that can be found in Gremlins for example, as there are several lulls in the storytelling. One can only speculate that the movie's small budget, compared to Hollywood productions, has deprived the narrative of the larger scale set pieces and visual scope that would work a treat. Nonetheless, Attack the Block is exactly the kind of distinctly homegrown product that the British film industry should be making. Ya get me?
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