In the cold mist of night in an unnamed suburban English town, the last thing you would (or expect) to see would be supernatural creatures (well at least that's what one could describe them as). This feeling we have is mutual with our unlikely heroes in this year's Brisbane International Film Festival opener, Attack The Block.
Written and Directed by first-timer Joe Cornish, Attack The Block centres around a group of gangsta-talking suburban 'hoods' and their desperate attempt to defend their apartment block against a random but ruthless onslaught of "blacker than black" dog-like creatures that are blind and have teeth that suggest they've been drinking glow-stick liquid (to be clearer, their teeth glow in the dark). Led by the tough and tormented Moses (John Boyega, in his first feature film role), this group of shallow but creative teenagers discover an alien that has crashed into the street from space. After killing it, an offensive that suggests Planet Of The Apes  on crack ensues, forcing our heroes to fend for not only themselves but people they wouldn't normally care for, such as university graduate Sam (Jodie Whittaker), Brewis (Luke Treadaway) and their ever-sampling drug dealer Ron (Nick Frost). Strangely enough, although we know almost nothing of these characters (and we know nothing of the aliens either), we somehow care for them and believe in them – probably being that the only other thing we have to compare them to are the flesh-eating furry animals. But let's not detract from fine and strong performances, particularly from Boyega, but the odd and out-of-place casting of Nick Frost can't go unquestioned, despite him always being a delight to watch.
At a runtime of just under 90 minutes, it feels more like a stretched out short film than a science-fiction action-adventure. From the opening shot it immediately jumps straight into it, offering no back story or explanatory inciting incident, but rather an exercise in outright survival. This quick and painful process is excellently captured by Tom Townend, whose previous work comprises of mainly shorts and music videos, which explains the neon-lit, music video style. The script is witty, with an interesting dynamic range of characters given the close-circuit and controlled environment of the film and in doing so is quite funny in places. Bringing these clashing elements together, Cornish creates a film that is almost void of genre – it's not quite science-fiction, it's not quite comedy, it's not quite action. However, it dishes up a hefty serving of each as if it were a three-course meal.
Attack The Block is a fun, violent and spontaneous exercise in being – being in the situation, in the moment. We don't imagine we are anywhere else, we just call it as we see it.