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Images from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting were seen around the word. The photographs, showing both reaction and grief, were a reminder of the other tragedies from the year, including the Aurora theater shooting. In an image provided by NASA Tuesday Dec. 18, 2012 NASA’s Cassini spacecraft delivered a glorious view of [...]

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Starring: Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, Nick Frost
Director: Joe Cornish

Summary: A teenage gang in a South London estate find their night of weed smoking and mugging interrupted after they beat an alien invader to death and bring about a terrifying alien invasion on their turf…

Attack the Block begins with our "heroes" mugging a young nurse on her way home from a heavy shift. To say Joe Cornish (of Adam and Joe fame) has some brass balls on him is an understatement. Immediately the audience is on the back foot, sympathising with the victim and hoping these young thugs get their cumuppence any which way possible – be it via. alien or human hands.

With the gang played by largely unknowns, the film harks back to the days of low budget Carpenter or Casterrari. Anti-heroes – each with their own character trait – are thrown into a strange situation in which they have to prove themselves to be worthy of the hero mantle. By using this basic template with a British twist, Cornish gives himself the space to tap into that social fear of "feral" teens taking over our once safe streets – whilst also referencing the "hood" and sci-fi movies he loves so much. Importantly though, his mischievous and playful script doesn't become a fanboy love-in, rather it allows each character to develop their own language and style and doesn't allow them to fall into the trap of caricature.

Once the Basement Jaxx soundtrack is pumping and the glow-in-the-dark teeth possessing aliens are ascending the tower, the film hits the peak of the frenetic pace and it manages to keep it all the way to the finale. The gang are picked off in unflinchingly bloody ways as they fight off the outer space hordes in the claustrophobic corridors and elevators of the block. The ascension of lead member Moses (Treadaway) into defender of the community is warmly and delicately handled – with a performance to match – and Attack the Block relishes the 100-minute opportunity to change your opinion on these kids by placing them in this other wordly situation.

Comparisons to Shaun of the Dead are unfair. Whereas that was an out and out comedy with very little in the way of social comment – above the surface anyway – Attack the Block wears its heart on its sleeve from the off. It wants you to be uncomfortable as a viewer and wants you to make tough choices. Despite the stunt casting of Nick Frost (who struggles to get any laughs from his underdeveloped role), I can't see it's bloody imagery and social commentary being repeated on ITV2 every other night; but even though the laughs aren't thick and fast, that shouldn't take away from the fact that it's a surprisingly charming and brutal slice of British life told with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

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