Normally alien races attacking the Earth mostly have a thing for historic landmarks and big cities, whether it’s The White House in Independence day or downtown Chicago in Transformers. Only when going for a more mysterious approach are movies about aliens set in deserted sceneries like New Mexico. In Attack The Block a teen gang is under attack by aliens and have to defend their block located in South London. This occurs just when they’re mugging a young nurse and a meteorite hits a car next to the. Going for the easy opportunity of looking for valuables in the now open car the leader of the group Moses gets attacked by a small but vicious creature. It flees the scene but bent on revenge the boys follow it, trap it and kill it. But this small creature has some bigger relatives following him and within no time the whole block is under attack of these creatures.
Though set in London the movie does play out like a high octane action movie but is solely set in a downtown area where the aliens seem to invade but whose motive is unclear. The resemble something of the aliens in the Ridley Scott movie with the absence of eyes and big beak but are pretty unique. The choice to make them pitch black so the look a bit like silhouettes is one that tools one getting used to in the first scenes but in the end works pretty well and makes them unique. And those fluorescent teeth do help making them look cool.
Alien invasion movies are a dime a dozen and so it takes a certain approach to make them feel remotely original these days. Luckily Attack The Block does so by setting it in a fresh environment and by having the protagonists be of the same caliber as those evil kids from Eden Lake or Harry Brown. After all, when the movie opens they’re mugging a young woman. These are the same hoodie wearing bastards we loathed in other movies, and do here in the beginning and while they never turn out to have the cliched heart of gold we end up rooting for them. So does the victim of the robbery who ends up joining them in their fight against the aliens as they happen to keep running into each other.
Clearly made on a low budget Attack The Block never uses real money shots and it’s for the better. Even the Aliens, despite the fact that these Gorilla-dogs are cool, seem to have been designed in a way they don’t eat up the budget in order to look convincing. In case you’re worried this makes the movie worse; don’t. Like Spielberg’s problems with the mechanical shark in Jaws which made him keep the shark out of it for most of the movie the choice to design the creatures this way turns out to be cool. Like the red eyes in front of the window in Critters, there’s a nice moment when a dozen of fluorescent teeth are visible in front of a window.
Attack The Block is a fun little movie that, like a similar movie as Critters, is better than it should be, or you would expect it to be. It has a nice pace and atmosphere to it, there are some pretty funny moments as well as plenty suspenseful ones. And if there is a lesson to be learned it’s that it could always come in handy to have someone with you that studied biology or watched a lot of National Geographic.