We sure have been talking a lot about this film on S&A haven’t we? And If you read Tambay’s review of Attack the Block last week HERE then you’ll know that he liked the film, but was rather underwhelmed by it. It’s no John Carpenter’s The Thing or Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s not a horror film that neither bends the rules or transcends the genre, nor does it want to.
Now having seeing the film myself I can say that I liked the film much better than he did simply because I got exactly what I was expecting. A low budget, lean, tight, highly entertaining 90 minute monster B movie. No fluff and no pretentiousness (well a little but I’ll get to that in a minute…) It does its job and it does it very well.
It is what it is and for the record I liked much more than JJ Abrams’ bloated overhyped and overrated Super 8 with one of the least scariest and unconvincing monsters in recent memory. (Remember back in the good old days when they used animatronics to create monsters instead of all this cartoon CGI stuff? In Block they use CGI to create the alien monsters too, but at least they’re really evil and scary, not sad misunderstood homesick aliens who just want to go back home like in Super 8.)
But I think that’s why I responded to Attack the Block. It’s obviously inspired by all those cheap B movie horror films of the 60’s and 70’s back when they were considred a dime a dozen. But nowadays most filmmakers are completely clueless as to how to make a film like that anymore. Everything is now over bloated with CGI effects and ADD type editing. Block goes back to the basics. Its approach is simple and direct. It starts off slowly and builds effectively to a frenzied climax with some genuinely suspenseful set pieces along the way.
I also may have responded to it because the lead character Moses (an excellent performance by John Boyega who looks at times eerily like a very young Denzel Washington), a cynical thug who learns responsibility and his true leadership qualities along the way, is a young black brave hero. He takes command from the outset to destroy the aliens and never wavers once. Watching the film I was hard pressed to think when was the last time I saw a strong young black hero on the screen. And clearly too did the audience who audibly responded to him every time he saved the day. He’s a refreshing relief from the usual minstrelsy and buffoonery channeling Mantan Moreland we usually see.
If there was any fault with the film, it’s with the occasional clumsy speech here and there about the social condition and oppression of black people. It’s not exactly needed since the film very clearly makes that point visually throughout the film. It’s as if the filmmakers were trying to convince themselves that Block was a more important film than it really is. (Or maybe Spike Lee took over directing those sequences…); it isn’t really, and that’s not anything to be ashamed of.
Block works quite well on its own level and it’s a solid genre movie that provides plenty enough chills and thrills along the way. It’s rare film that leaves you satisfied as long as you’re not expecting a masterpiece for the ages.