Film: Attack the Block

"That's an alien bruv, believe it!"

South London Gang vs. Giant Alien Gorillas.

Attack The Block is a 2011 British comedy-horror film directed and written by Joe Cornish and produced by Edgar Wright. In South London, a teenage street gang — Moses, Pest, Dennis, Jerome, and Biggz — are mugging a female nurse (Sam) when a meteor comes crashing down into a nearby car. It's no meteor, though — it's an alien. A hostile, violent alien. With big scary teeth. After attacking Moses, the alien is killed by the gang — but more come crashing down, and it’s up to these kids to take them down and save their block.

Check out the trailer here.

Attack the Block features examples of:

  • Action Girl: Tia and Dimples, most definitely. Sam may count, though seeing as she snuck up the one alien she killed, whereas Tia and Dimples faced the one alien they killed head-on, Tia and Dimples may count as a better example. Lampshaded earlier by Moses.
    Sam: "Where is he taking us?"
    Jerome: "Tia's flat."
    Sam: "What makes you think we'll be safer in her place than we were in mine?"
    Jerome: "Security gate."
    Moses: "She wouldn't be asking that question if she'd seen them girls fight."
  • Action Survivor: Sam
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Well, aliens in a South London council estate.
    Dimples: "What kind of alien, out of all the places in the whole wide world, would invade some shitty council estate in south London?"
    Dennis: "One that's lookin' for a fight!"
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with. It's hinted that Tia's got a crush on Moses, and she and her friends get along with Moses and the other guys. On the other hand, Tia makes it clear she dislikes their gang activities when she chews Moses out upon learning they mugged Sam at knifepoint.
  • All There in the Manual: Several characters go unnamed in the movie. Tia and Dimples' other two friends (Dionne and Gloria), the older woman who comforts Sam after the mugging (Margaret), Jerome's older sister and her visiting friend (Roxanne and Bubbles) and Hi-Hatz's other two henchmen (Patrick and Beats).
  • Anyone Can Die: Two of the main five teens are killed, as well as their dog.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Not said, but when Hi-Hatz calls his posse in to get revenge on Moses and company, the two who get into the back of the car share a moment where, without saying anything and a long, information-filled look, they both dive for their seat-belts at the same time due to his acute case of Drives Like Crazy.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the gang sees some kids playing with guns, they confiscate them and Moses orders them to, "Go home! Lock your doors! Do your homework! Watch Naruto!"
  • Asshole Victim: Hi-Hatz. You will not feel sorry for him. At all. Hell, you might even cheer. When Moses expresses guilt over the people killed by the aliens, Hi-Hatz is the only person he doesn't mention, with good reason (he doesn't mention Patrick or Beats either, but he didn't know they were killed).
  • Author Avatar: Joe Cornish based the character of Brewis off himself when he was younger.
  • Badass: Moses, without question. Give him his due, Hi-Hatz is also pretty Badass. An absolutely loopy one you'd never root for, but he is one, nonetheless.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Played with, as when compared to Hi-Hatz's overly confident, arrogant, impulsive and hot-headed nature, Tonks is quite calm and level-headed, at least for what little we see of him, as Hi-Hatz threatening him to check what was behind the car gets Tonks killed.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The aliens have neon turquoise teeth.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Moses saves the block, while he and Sam come to terms, although it looks like he and Pest (not to mention Brewis and Ron) are gonna serve time in prison. However, Sam's testimony should keep them from doing any hard time and the fact that there are still several alien bodies around should help corroborate the stories of those who saw them. Unfortunately, however, Dennis and Jerome don't make it through the night.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: A "queen" arrives via crash landing and spread pheromones. Then males also crash land and get to breeding with her. The males have perfectly black fur (no shine at all) and have nothing to their faces but a mouth full of four-plus rows of glowing blue teeth.
  • Black Blood: The gorillas have "the blackest blood ever."
  • Black and Nerdy: Jerome, the Token Good Teammate with coke-bottle lenses and relative pudginess (not that he's particularly fat, at all) also happens to have the largest vocabulary and the best grasp of standard interaction in the group of lads.
  • Buffy Speak/Phrase Catcher: The aliens are consistently described as 'big gorilla wolf motherfuckers'.
  • Chained by Fashion: Well, it's not a fashion choice, but Moses spends most of the movie wearing a broken pair of handcuffs.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Union Jack draped over the side of the apartment building ends up saving Moses when he blows up his flat.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • The nature documentary on moths Brewis is seen watching later helps him figure out why the aliens seem to be pursuing Moses.
    • Also, the jump Biggz makes from the bridge to the stairwell when being chased, after previously boasting that he could make it.
  • Council Estate: The Block, where the story takes place.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sam can be this at times.
  • Delinquent: The boys, at the beginning at least.
  • Don't Tell Mama: All the boys lie about what they are actually doing (mugging people/fighting aliens).
  • Drives Like Crazy: Hi-Hatz: dear God, man... look at the road!
  • Eagleland Osmosis: Averted when one of the characters mentions the FBI will arrive, only to be told that "that's America".
    • Played straight when they repeatedly call the police "Feds", not realising that England doesn't have a Federal Government (besides the fact that their crimes wouldn't be Federal crimes even if it did).
      • That's actually become a commonly-used term in British teen-speak over the last couple of years. Too much watching The Wire?
  • Erudite Stoner: Brewis, to a degree.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Played with. The boys are introduced in an unsympathetic light, mugging a defenseless woman. Part of the point of this movie was to show that this event actually doesn't show their full character.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
    "What's Ron's weed room?"
  • Five-Man Band
    • The Hero - Moses - The clear leader of the group.
    • The Lancer- Pest - He gives Moses a lot of support.
    • The Big Guy- Dennis - The most hotheaded of the group.
    • The Smart Guy- Jerome - Probably the most level-headed one - and he has glasses.
    • The Chick - Biggz... well he does spend half the movie hiding in a dumpster.
    • Sixth Ranger - Sam, who joins the group partway through.
    • Tagalong Kid - Probs and Mayhem want to be this, but the others don't let them join.
  • Genre-Busting: Sort of an inner city horror action sci-fi comedy with social commentary.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • After the aliens attack the group in Tia's apartment, Tia and her three friends immediately realize that the aliens are going only after Moses and his friends, and decide to stay away from the boys by running out of the building. All four of them survive.
    • Tonks, upon noticing that Pest is telling the truth about there being something nearby, refuses to go check on it when Hi-Hatz asks him to. Unfortunately for him, Hi-Hatz threatens to shoot him if he doesn't go check, which ends up with the nearby alien killing Tonks.
  • Genre Throwback: Many critics have compared it to '80s monster movies and horror-comedies like Gremlins and The Goonies.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Subverted - those aren't eyes.
  • Gorn: Usually keeps from being extreme about its gore, but it does have its moments- especially Hi-Hatz' death.
    • After narrowly avoiding a couple of aliens Pest gets bitten by one and has a chunk taken out of his leg.
  • Held Gaze: A recurring motif between Sam and Moses. They stare into each other's eyes about five times over the course of the film, going from fear and hostility to trust and gratitude as the night goes on.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: See Katanas Are Just Better.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "You swear too much, lady!"
  • Implied Love Interest: There's a certain vibe between Tia and Moses, though it's not explicit.
  • Improvised Weapon: One of the aliens is killed with a broken floor lamp, an ice skate, and a set of polka dot bedsheets.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: Probs and Mayhem
  • Insistent Terminology: It's Probs and Mayhem!
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Moses, the hero, uses a katana for most of the film. It was Dennis', but he gave it to Moses after he got a gun which was a toy.
    • Funny enough the movie shows why it is preferred to use short swords when fighting indoors.
  • Kill It with Fire: Probs and Mayhem vs. The Alien.
  • Killed Off for Real: Dennis and Jerome.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Getting tooled up occurs a couple of times, but particularly after the lads see more of the meteors dropping on London.
  • London Town: Although the film rather unusually opens with an establishing shot of Oval underground station, rather than the usual landmarks.
  • Lower-Class Lout: Almost the entire cast. Mostly played for laughs.
  • The Man:
    Moses: I think the government sent them things to kill black boys. First they sent drugs. Then they sent guns. Then these monsters. Black boys aren't killing each other fast enough so they thought they’d speed up the process.
    Pest: Believe.
  • Meaningful Name: Moses.
  • The Medic: Sam.
  • Mood Whiplash: We go in moments from Jerome's grisly death to a nonlethal, and even rather slapsticky, case of Friend or Foe on Butt Monkey Brewis.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The aliens are pretty much just fur and teeth. Glowing, sharp teeth. LOTS of glowing, sharp teeth...
  • Nerd Glasses: Jerome.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By killing the first alien and parading it around, they end up making themselves targets for the rest by covering themselves with its scent; Dennis and Jerome are outright killed because of it.
  • The Nose Knows: The aliens don't have eyes, so do the Maths...
  • The Not-Love Interest: The central relationship of the film is the one that exists between Sam and Moses. It doesn't begin well (he mugs her and scares her half to death) but the progress of their growing respect and trust in one another is marked by their Held Gazes until the point when Moses returns the ring that he stole and Sam defends him to the police officers.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Played with. While the aliens are shown in full, their fur is so perfectly black that no detail can be made out except for their teeth.
  • Off with His Head!: Dennis.
  • Oh, Crap: Moses' reaction when his sword gets stuck in the wall after he raises it to attack an alien. Dennis' reaction after realizing the gun he stole from a 'kid' is a toy, right before it's too late.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Pest, Biggz and Hi-Hatz.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Moses spends a large portion of the film like this, barring a few exceptions at the start.
  • Police Are Useless: The considered opinion of the gang.
    Sam: We should call the police.
    Pest: You'd be better off calling the Ghostbusters love.
    • They somehow fail to notice an alien invasion.
      • Justified, as it is mentioned that it's Bonfire Night, which is one of the police's busiest nights of the year. All the fireworks would also mask the sound of aliens crash landing.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Brewis. His introduction? Woop Woop! Dat's da sound of da police.
  • Scary Black Man: Subverted by Moses. Played straight with Hi-Hatz, who even frightens his own men. Not because of being imposing, seeing as he's rather short and skinny, but because he's so impulsive and trigger-happy, completely unable to cool down once he gets riled up.
  • The Stoic: Moses — oh, so much.
  • The Stoner: Most of the boys smoke but Brewis and Ron in particular.
  • Team Pet: Subverted in that Dennis' dog is killed almost immediately by an alien.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Subverted. The main characters are young hoodlums, one on his way to becoming a street pusher, but over the course of the film they come across more sympathetically and show their inner humanity.
  • Those Two Guys: Little kids Reginald and Gavin - or rather Probs and Mayhem.
  • Token Good Teammate: Jerome is this to the gang, being easily the nicest guy of the bunch. Unlike his friends, he doesn't act in a hostile way towards Brewis when they meet him in Ron's flat, and he's the first one to show politeness towards Sam.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Dennis is killed for expecting a firearm he took from Probs and Mayhem to be real and not a toy capgun.
    • Hi-Hatz counts too. There are aliens in the neighborhood, perfectly capable of killing people, but rather than focus on getting rid of them, he only focuses on wanting to kill Moses and the other boys, just because he feels they disrespected him. This comes back to bite him in the ass later.
  • True Companions: What the gang starts the film as. What the gang, Sam and Probs and Mayhem end up as.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sam delivers this to the boys after one says that they wouldn't have mugged her if they knew she was also from the Block — she sarcastically asks if that means it's acceptable to mug people so long as they don't live in the same complex.
  • White Gangbangers: Pest and one of Hi-Hatz's henchmen, Patrick.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Hi-Hatz and Biggz.
  • The Yardies: Deconstructed. We go into these boys' lives and see why they are the way they are.
  • Younger Than They Look: Much to Sam's surprise, Moses is only fifteen years old. Most in the audience probably share her reaction.

Alternative Title(s):

Attack The Block