Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Attack the Block


Shortly after they have robbed a young woman, a group of teenage thugs from a London housing project encounter a crashed spaceship with an alien inside. They promptly kill it and drag its corpse around the streets. This was a very difficult film for me. It is probably the only time Earth has been invaded in the movies where I was rooting for the aliens to rip the guts out of the “humans.” Three or four times I was tempted to just say fuck it, and turn it off. But I stuck around, and I’m sort of glad I did. I can see the film’s point, I know that these guys really have nothing else to do but band together … yet at my age it’s hard to like gangsters, no matter if they turn out to have hearts of gold. Maybe that’s the key: “At my age.” Younger people might like it better. Naturally, if these guys didn’t end up showing some human traits, maybe growing up a little, it would be impossible to like the film. But they do, and I ended up rooting for them, particularly the leader, Moses, played with great charisma by John Boyega, who looks a little like a young Denzel Washington, and may have a big career ahead of him. He shows remorse, determination, and lots of courage in defeating the aliens. At the end, there is a possibility of redemption, as he realizes that he has become a hero to the other residents of the council estate (Brit for housing project).

The best thing about the movie, though, is that it once again demonstrates how you don’t really need a zillion dollars of SFX. What you need is imagination and a good story. You can do this in horror more easily than most other genres. Some of the shots of the creatures (who have no eyes, working by sense of smell, and have huge green teeth that light up in the dark) are SFX, but many more are guys in creature suits, who do a pretty good job. And I am so glad I didn’t see this in a theater. The DVD subtitles for the Brit-English-slang-impaired were absolutely essential if I were to understand more than one word in three.