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Cut to the chase

As Attack the Block is being touted as ‘the new Shaun of the Dead’ I expected a light-hearted romp rather than something quite bloody and nasty, although this does, at least, come in at a highly manageable 88 minutes.

14 May 2011

12:00 AM

14 May 2011

12:00 AM

As Attack the Block is being touted as ‘the new Shaun of the Dead’ I expected a light-hearted romp rather than something quite bloody and nasty, although this does, at least, come in at a highly manageable 88 minutes.

As Attack the Block is being touted as ‘the new Shaun of the Dead’ I expected a light-hearted romp rather than something quite bloody and nasty, although this does, at least, come in at a highly manageable 88 minutes. (Next week’s fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film is 140 minutes, can you believe, but don’t worry, I’m already in training for the boredom. I paired socks all morning, will be watching paint dry this afternoon and, just to make sure, I’m setting off tomorrow for a camping trip to Wales.)

In its defence, I should say I don’t think this film was made with a middle-aged housewife such as myself in mind, and imagine it will probably go down much better with teen boys of the kind who wear their jeans halfway down their arses and think it’s a good look, even though it so isn’t. I’ve never seen it promoted in Vogue, for example. Or Grazia. And don’t you always want to get behind and hoik them up? I know I do, but I’ve just tried it on my own teenage son, and only received a barrage of abuse for my trouble. Still, at least I got my own back. ‘We’re going camping to Wales tomorrow, and that’s that!’ I’ve just told him. Never mind alien revenge, it’s the bad-tempered middle-aged housewife you have to look out for, every time.


Now, where were we? Oh, yes. This is the debut film from Joe Cornish, better known for the The Adam and Joe Show. (Nope, me neither, but in the interests of at least pretending to be cool we will say no more about it.)

It’s set at night on a south London council estate and opens with a group of hoodies mugging a lone nurse (Jodie Whittaker) at knife-point and pushing her to the ground. I think that, as the film proceeds, we are meant to look beyond the Daily Mail headlines and the teen patois (’check it, blood’) and like these hoodies, and see the good in them, with particular reference to their dishy leader, Moses (John Boyega), but you know what? Mugging a lone nurse at knife-point and pushing her to the ground is always a bit of a deal-breaker for me. Also, one of them later sends a dog over the top, which has to be unforgivable, no matter how redemptive the ending. Where is the redemption for that dog? I’m half-minded to call the RSPCA, PDSA, Blue Cross and Dog’s Trust. You can never throw too much at this sort of thing.

Anyway, just as the hoodies are all but through with mugging nice Jodie, an alien falls from the sky and lands on the bonnet of a nearby car. Where it comes from, or why, is never explained, which is good, actually. These things are best kept terse. This alien is an odd, Gollum-y thing which looks as ‘if a monkey fucked a fish’ and smells ‘like a shit did a shit’. (I know, but what can you do? It’s how young people talk today, innit?) Moses fells this alien, which is something of a mistake, as hundreds of others then hurl to earth seeking revenge. These aliens are not like the first, for some reason, and are not at all frightening. They look like Gnasher from Denis the Menace but bigger, with ultra- violet teeth.

From here on in, it’s all about the gang’s attempt to defeat them, using guns, knives and truncheons. Blood spurts, body parts get bitten off, police officers get ripped to shreds. And it’s most chasey-chasey, with chases on foot, chases on bikes, chases up stairs, chases across stairwells, chases in cars, chases on mopeds…it’s all super-fast with the only moments of respite coming when the gang holes up in the flat of the local weed-dealer (Nick Frost).

Look, this is a nicely performed film which is kept quick and tight, but for a comic horror it’s just not funny or horrifying enough, and the heavy-handed moral at the end — do bad and bad will do you; your actions have consequences — isn’t going to help that dog, is it? This is one for the kids, and now I must go work on my boredom threshold. I could just watch Pirates 1, 2 & 3, I suppose. They should train me up nicely.


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