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Fantastic Horror Flick – ATTACK THE BLOCK

ATTACK THE BLOCK is part of my 2011 SXSW film festival coverage – the best part!

Wow. Take Goonies‘ ensemble of child warriors, Gremlins‘ furry pandemic, Lamberto Bava‘s Demons-esque trapped-in-a-building-dread, the visual inventiveness of Evil Dead II, the “no one is safe” siege-like sensation of Attack on Precinct 13, and bits of flavoring from countless other 80’s goodness, then pop ‘em in a blender and layer the entire thing with some genuinely clever and assured screenwriting, and you get this fantastic film, which came out of nowhere for me – and by the looks of the twitter feed after the SXSW premiere, for hundreds of others like me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there hasn’t been a film this fun and fearless since Peter Jackson‘s early years. Which isn’t surprising, given writer/director Joe Cornish‘s similar background with the Feebles-esque Adam and Joe Show (check out the puppet homage, target=”_blank”>Saving Private Lion). The story of a group of underdog hoodlums who get a chance to make good when aliens land in their low-income housing complex, Attack the Block (2011) is a force of cinematic nature, a rip-roaring yarn delivering incredible spectacle while anchored in a good ol’ fashioned tale of redemption, revolving around lead hooligan Moses (fantastic newcomer John Boyega), a precocious gang-banger whom we first meet mugging a kind nurse (Jodie Whittaker)- hardly the endearing scene most filmmakers use to introduce their protagonists. The fact that Cornish takes risks is refreshing, and the added bonus that every one of them proves rewarding is endlessly endearing. You can feel the love in every nuance and frame – as the kids gear up for war against the inky aliens you get Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-like poses, and if you grew up in the 80’s you’ll no doubt feel a sweeping nostalgia for the get-in, get-out, “screw the ratings” bravado which Cornish and his co-horts (including Edgar Wright and Nick Frost of Shaun of the Dead fame) share with genre greats Joe Dante, George Romero, Cheech and Chong and Dan O’Bannon. There’s plenty of comedy, frights, clever twists and subversive characters, as well as some incredibly memorable sci-fi visuals (the creatures climbing the building stands out for me), but overall it’s the sense of infectious fun which makes it a winner- Like Sam Raimi’s recent Drag Me to Hell, this is a movie that resurrects one’s hope in the future of genre filmmaking. If there’s a drawback I can think of it’s that from hereon out Cornish will never be able to fly under my radar like he did on Attack the Block – which is fine by me. And given that Cornish (alongside Wright and producer Jim Wilson) gregariously entertained audience questions until 3 am at the Alamo showing I attended, it seems the film’s imminent success couldn’t be happening to a nicer guy.

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