Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is loved by the Substream staff more than Halloween. With October’s arrival, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a slew of special features we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day.
31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring column that will run throughout the month of October. The goal of this series is to supply every Substream reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you will follow along at home. Reader, beware, you’re in for a… spooky good time!
Day 11: Attack The Block (2011)
Joe Cornish‘s only feature-length directorial credit came in 2011, backed by the same teams that made hits like Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World so great. Attack The Block is essentially an action-thriller with comedic elements, but when all is said and done, it’s a monster flick at heart—and this one in particular boasts brilliant creature designs that carry a genius ‘less is more’ approach, ultimately elevating both the film’s intensity and visual merit.
Currently clutching a ‘Certified Fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes at 90%, Attack The Block has been widely praised as a surprisingly excellent indie entry into the alien action-thriller sub-genre (there’s probably a section on Netflix), or into the vast archives of monster movies in general.
Set in the fictional South London neighborhood referred to as “The Ends,” the film follows a gang of young hooligans led by Moses (The Force Awakens bad-ass John Boyega). On Guy Fawkes Night, a random mugging by the boys is interrupted when a meteorite falls from the sky, smashing into a nearby car. The mugging victim (Jodie Whittaker) gets away as Moses—not one to pass up an opportunity—checks the smashed car for anything of value, only to find himself face to face with a rather disturbing creature. It’s pale, hairless, and has some impressive sets of teeth and claws. Moses discovers that the hard way with a gnarly scratch to the face. It turns out that the meteorite was in fact a cocoon, and what began as raucous night of fun and crime for a group of teenagers turns into an all-out war between man and…something else.
As previously mentioned, the creature design in Attack The Block is simply awesome (emphasis on the “simply” and the “awesome”). The aliens are unlike anything really experienced in an alien film before. They’re black as can be; black to the point that if it weren’t for their beautifully bioluminescent rows of teeth, you wouldn’t even see them. They don’t reflect light, they don’t have eyes (that we can see), and they communicate with some form of echolocation like bats and dolphins. The effects are excellent and the creative choice to make them practically non-existent visually was a smart one. However, the aforementioned alien that we meet first—within the opening five minutes of the film—is very different. We get to see it in its entirety and it’s pretty disgusting. It’s got a serious chupacabra thing going on and it apparently smells “like a shit did a shit.” You’ll believe Ron when you see it.
From the moment the first injury is sustained, the film moves along at a break-neck pace, filled with action, laughs, a touch of graphic gore, and some serious ass kicking from our team of unlikely heroes, who are armed with bikes, scooters, swords, baseball bats, fireworks, and more. As if the beastly aliens aren’t enough for the teens to take on, they have some human-form foes as well, but to counteract those obstacles, the gang acquires some useful allies in intelligent stoner Brewis (Luke Treadaway) and local weed dealer Ron (the always perfect Nick Frost).
As for how the rest of the film plays out plot-wise, I’ll keep the spoilers to myself and leave that for you to discover on your own.
Cornish apparently interviewed several kids/teens in youth groups and asked them what type of weapons they would use and how they would react in the event of an actual alien invasion. This is an element, teamed with the stellar acting from all involved, that gives the film a stronger sense of realism and relatability, even within a situation never before experienced in real life. Unlike with most films in these respective genres, there aren’t any overtly far-fetched decisions being made that have you screaming angrily at the characters on screen. You’ve got tough inner city kids keeping their cool (mostly) and making logical decisions, working with what they have to survive against a surprise enemy. It’s like The Sandlot meets This Is England, mixed with elements of The World’s End.
Doesn’t that sound great? It is.
Overall, Attack The Block is 90 minutes of fast-paced, fun-filled action/sci-fi/horror and it’s a perfect choice for a movie night this Halloween season. Check out the trailer below and rent it or pick up a physical copy to add to your collection. You won’t regret it, bruv.