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Film / Attack the Block

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"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, starring John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, and Nick Frost. 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 o 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.
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  • 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 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.
  • Artistic License – Physics: There really are substances in real life that are as black as the aliens' fur in the film. They contain carbon nanotubes, and absorb all light, looking almost two-dimensional from the total lack of reflection,
  • Alien Blood: The aliens have dark blue blood
  • 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 sharing anything except a lingering, information-packed look, they both dive for their seatbelts at the exact same time. This is due to his acute case of Drives Like Crazy trumping any macho posturing over not using the things they might otherwise have gone for.
  • 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 and likely didn't even notice them as his group fled when Hi-Hatz appeared and shot at them).
  • Author Avatar: Joe Cornish based the character of Brewis off himself when he was younger.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Tonks. While Hi-Hatz's is arrogantly confident, impulsive and volatile, Tonks is quite calm, logical and level-headed, but Hi-Hatz has little to no respect for him, as seen when Tonks refuses to go check out the weird noise and Hi-Hatz threatens to shoot him so he'll do it. This gets Tonks killed when an alien takes him by surprise, knocks him against a wall and rips a big chunk out of his neck.
  • 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 spreads 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 4+ rows of glowing blue teeth.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The aliens appear to navigate by echolocation, sound and scent.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: While the male aliens are large, black, and hairy, with glowing teeth, the female is small, pale and only sparsely furred, and has non-fluorescent teeth. They do look similar otherwise.
  • 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.
  • Black and Grey Morality: The boys are certainly not angels, as they are introduced as muggers and general hoodlums in the beginning, but compared to psychopaths and drug-pushers like Hi-Hatz, they seem downright saintly.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: In-Universe for Sam, as she does not understand the boys' logic when they explain that they never would have mugged her if they knew that she lived in the same building as them. This could also double a very mild version of Even Evil Has Standards, since mugging defenseless people is never okay, but at least they would never do it to someone they knew was struggling to get by just like them.
  • 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.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The car that got flattened by the first meteor happened to be Brewis’s dad’s car.
  • Council Estate: The Block, where the story takes place.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sam can be this at times.
    • Pest too has his moments, when he sarcastically suggests to Sam that she go feed the "dogs" with some Pedigree Chum.
  • 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".
    • The term "Feds" for police doesn't make much sense in England, but plenty of actual English teens use it so the film does as well.
  • 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?"
  • Eyeless Face: Obvious on the female alien, although obscured by the males' thick fur.
  • Free-Range Children: The whole gang, pretty much, but especially Moses; it's revealed late in the film that his only adult "supervision" comes from an uncle who is seldom around.
  • Genre-Busting: Sort of an inner city horror action sci-fi comedy with social commentary.
  • 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. They're teeth, really pointy ones.
  • 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.
  • Hard-to-Light Fire: It takes an alarmingly long time for Moses to light the firecracker so he can set off the gas in his kitchen and blow the whole pack of aliens to hell.
  • 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.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The calls of the aliens, which vary between bird screeches, little-girl screams, or a strange electronic buzz.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: See Katanas Are Just Better.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Set on Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Day.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
    • When they face the camera and shriek, teeth can be clearly seen running all the way down their throats.
  • 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, and this also causes the death of Tonks (who touched the dead female alien thinking it was a puppet) and two police officers (who got the female's scent on them when they arrested Moses).
    • Somewhat averted with the reveal that if they had not the rest of the species would have mated with the Queen, leading to the Block being invaded enmasse by hordes of aliens. While their actions cost them and other innocents, Moses and his crew most likely saved thousands.
    • Played straight with Brewis freaking out halfway down Hall 19, leading to Jerome getting lost in the smoke and killed.
  • The Nose Knows: The aliens don't have eyes, so they navigate with a powerful sense of smell.
  • 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, and the aliens are all gathered in the vicinity of the building the boys live at rather than scattering all over the city.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Brewis. His introduction? Woop Woop! Dat's da sound of da police.
  • Prohibited Hero Saves the Day: Probs and Mayhem are considered Tagalong Kids, and when things start to get dangerous, Moses tries to intimidate them into going home and laying low. Not only do they disobey him, they end up saving Biggz's life when they take down one of the alien beasts with an improvised flamethrower.
  • 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.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After the attack in Tia's flat, she and her friends realize that the aliens are going only after Moses' group and whoever is with them and thus decide the best way to stay alive is by getting the hell out of the building asap. It works.
  • Skewed Priorities: Hi-Hatz doesn't seem all that phased by the alien invasion, and insists on continuing to try and kill the boys because they damaged his car despite the fact it only endangers him. It ultimately gets him killed. He would've been better off backing off and hoping the aliens did his work for him.
  • The Stoic: Moses — oh, so much. You can pretty much count the number of times he smiles on one hand.
  • The Stoner: Most of the boys smoke but Brewis and Ron in particular.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The boys are perplexed on how the aliens managed to find them despite being over a hundred rooms in their block. Turns out they were tracking the scent of a pheromone that they stained on their clothes when they came into contact with the female.
  • 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.
    • Even in the beginning he tries to get the mugging of Sam over with quickly, while the rest of the boys were taking their time.
    • In Tia's apartment, while Pest and Dennis dismiss how rough they were with Sam during the mugging, Jerome tries sympathizing with her, explaining that the knife was for intimidation purposes, trying to get the mugging over with quick and that they were as scared as her.
  • 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.
  • Video Credits: The named characters are shown in action at the start of the closing credits.
  • 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.
    • Tia also gets some fierce verbal jabs at them, especially at Moses, once she learns about them mugging Sam.
  • 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.


Example of: