Thursday, April 12, 2012

DVD Review: Attack the Block

Despite strong critical and test audience reactions, Attack the Block was dropped into 11 markets with no marketing, no advance warning and even no website. As a result it passed under a lot of audience's radars and even if it didn't, it was essentially impossible to see. I myself struggled to track it down before it left theaters, but was unable to. But now I can officially tell you, that if you can find it on DVD or Netflix, you should definitely seek it out. Because Attack the Block is ALL kinds of awesome.

The setup is fairly simple. A group of hoodlums in South London, fresh from mugging a woman wind up being attacked by and subsequently kill, a small monkey-like alien. Soon enough larger, bear-like aliens are showing up and assaulting the large apartment building (known, colloquially, as The Block, hence the title), and the teenage hoodlums are forced to band together with out residents of The Block and fight back against the monsters with improvised weaponry and tactics.

Pretty much everything this movie needs to get right it does. The characters are unique and interesting enough that I cared about their fates and was moved when they died, especially given how different they are from the usual kinds of people who wind up fending off aliens. The action is engaging and inventive. The scares are well done, the jokes well placed and genuinely funny. The script is easily the best script a movie like this could hope for. It's got great makeup, lighting, cinematography and even a fantastically used soundtrack. But special mention must go to the monster design. Working on a noticeably low budget, they solved the problem of how to make the CGI monsters look real and scary, without breaking the budget. I won't spoil it, but trust me, this is some of the best monster design you'll see all year.

Look, Attack the Block is not looking to reinvent it's genre. It's certainly not gonna break into the top 3 sci-fi films of the new century any time soon (they are, for context, District 9, Moon and Children of Men, in order). What it IS aiming to do is be a well made genre exercise, and taken on those merits it's one of the best new ones you can hope to see. If you have ANY desire to see a horror/monster movie, make it this one. Highly recommended.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he'd like to deliver a massive 'Fuck you' to the studio exec who thought Americans wouldn't understand the British slang.

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