I don’t get enough opportunities to talk about why Attack the Block is my absolute favorite. It’s on my list of favorite horrors and a favorite movie in general. From the monster/alien itself, to the characters, this film is one of the best.
The 2011 British sci-fi/horror is directed by Joe Cornish, and stars John Boyega and Jodie Wittaker (who both go on to Star Wars and Doctor Who fame, respectively). The film focuses on a gang of young teenagers, led by Moses (portrayed by Boyega) who stumble upon the first waves of an alien invasion. It’s up to Moses and his friends to protect their block, and essentially Earth, from invasion.
Technical stuff out of the way, the monster is fascinating! Its fur is deep and dark enough to blend into the night, allowing it to camouflage easily in the scenes outside the apartment building. However, it leaves you as a viewer with an uneasy feeling, as when you can see the alien in brightly lit hallways, or under streetlights, you know this is an otherworldly creature. And not in the awe-inspiring, ethereal meaning either. Speaking of awe-inspiring, the teeth are a work of art. Fluorescent, glowing blue, and deadly sharp, the alien’s teeth make a terrifying addition to the design. The first instance of the alien opening its jaws and showcasing those teeth is only overshadowed by the noise they make. As the creature has no eyes, and navigates through mainly echolocation, they are understandably loud. The screech is a combination of several animals, most notably a dolphin cry, and sends a chill down the spine when shrieked from a distance. One of the best uses of this screech in the movie is the scene in a smoke filled hallway where one character gets separated from the main group. There is something distinctly chilling when the loudest noises you can hear isn’t your friends calling out for you, but instead the unearthly screech of a creature hunting you.
Moving on to the characters, I personally am a sucker for terrible children and found family dynamics. Our protagonists are Moses, Pest, Jerome, Dennis, and Biggz. Each teen brings something different to the table skill and personality-wise, and they have their differing family dynamics. This is brilliantly captured in the scene where the boys all run back to their respective apartments and you see them gathering weapons and protection to fight against what they thought were the same sized creature they had originally met. All the boys meet to follow Moses, and it is clear that they see him as an older brother and authority figure, even though we find out later in the movie he is only 15 (barely older than the other boys). Not only do the boys defend one another against the aliens best they can, but they also defend each other against older characters who embody the issues of racism and classism touched on in the film.
Overall, Attack the Block is a delightful sci-fi movie that manages to introduce a lovable set of characters and a down-right scary monster. It manages to keep its pace even in some of the slower points of the movie, while tackling the overarching issues of racism and classism these boys face throughout their daily lives.