Who would win in a fight between a gang of South London teens and a horde of flesh-eating Aliens? It’s not an obvious bet you’d find at the bookies, but it’s a question that is answered in sci-fi horror Attack The Block.
The premise is an absurd mash up of Kidulthood and Independence Day. A gang of South London youths defend their fellow council estate residents during an alien invasion. A simple trope, yet an effective and unique one when you throw canine-esque extraterrestrials into this unlikely turf war.
I am a big fan of sci-fi horror. Alien, Dark Skies, Mars Attacks – you name it, I can’t get enough of it. And I really don’t think there is enough of it. We see endless amounts of paranormal, slasher, and monster films hit cinema screens and yet few will have me beaming back with their strange lights in the skies, glowing silhouettes in the fog and endless probing.
Attack The Block filled this void for me and more with its fresh take on the often neglected horror subgenre. It brought a bunch of relatively unknown actors from the local area into the spotlight, most notably John Boyega who went on to star in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Moreover, many of the actors spoke Multicultural London English within the film. The sociolect helped the film stay true to the area in which it was set and made the comedy – as well as the horror – more relatable to viewers from working class city backgrounds.
Hailing from Wolverhampton and spending a lot of time in Birmingham, much of the dialect within the film was familiar to me back when I first watched it in 2011. As well as this, I was the same age, or thereabouts, as many of the characters within the film. It was hard not to imagine how I would react within the situation they were in – probably not as bad ass or with the same impressive kill count, I can tell you that much.
Whether you watch it for its political and cultural messages about the representation and treatment of those from impoverished areas, or you just love watching aliens go splat, Attack The Block manages to be a standout in an otherwise ignored subgenre of horror.