Attack the Block (3 stars)

Attack the Block plays for scares more than laughs, and succeeds admirably

Plays for scares more than laughs, and succeeds admirably

Joe Cornish's directorial debut stars Jodie Whitaker and John Boyega

(15) 87min

Coming from the same production team as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs the World, this confident debut from Joe Cornish (one half of duo Adam and Joe) is much less a comedy than might have been expected. Rather it’s a very accomplished sci-fi horror, and a properly exciting one at that, evidencing Cornish’s clear love of the genre classics from its atmospheric synth soundtrack to its flourishes of gory splatter.

Sitting between Aliens and Gremlins in terms of tone, the story straddles reality and fantasy as a gang of errant teenagers attempt to defend their inner-city tower block against an army of bloodthirsty alien monsters. Cornish’s breathlessly-paced script entwines thrilling action set-pieces with a gently provocative portrayal of urban youth, effectively challenging audience preconceptions while never letting up on the entertainment. It’s sporadically funny (most often when accurately skewering the attitudes of modern teenagers) but the science-fiction scenario is played straight rather than as parody, and as the body count rises Cornish generates palpable tension and scares. Despite shaky acting from some of the young cast, leads Jodie Whitaker and newcomer John Boyega are excellent, providing strong characters amidst the action.

General release from Fri 13 May.

Attack the Block Trailer

Attack the Block

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • UK
  • 1h 28min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Joe Cornish
  • Written by: Joe Cornish
  • Cast: Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway, Jumayn Hunter, Nick Frost

This directorial debut from Joe Cornish (one half of 'Adam-and-Joe') is rather less of a comic affair than you might expect, with proper scares and a gripping sci-fi storyline in which a gang of urban teens defend their tower block from an army of bloodthirsty aliens. Some of the young cast are a little shaky, but leads…

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