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March 15, 2011

SXSW: ‘Attack the Block’ is thug-life tale with alien twist

Posted in: Movies

Catching up with SXSW coverage, here’s Mark Olsen’s report on “Attack the Block“…

attack the block SXSW: Attack the Block is thug life tale with alien twist

"Attack the Block" (SXSW)

Fan favorites Simon Pegg and Nick Frost release their new film “Paul” this week, but in Austin on Saturday night it was another project related to the “Shaun of the Dead” duo and their director pal Edgar Wright that had audiences lined up around the block outside the Alamo Ritz theater: Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block,” about what happens when a gang of English thugs encounter some otherworldly creatures.

Though the film is the feature directing debut for Cornish, the British writer-director-performer is no novice. He is well-known in England for the television comedy program “The Adam and Joe Show” and has more recently worked as a writing partner to Wright on “The Adventures of Tin-Tin: Secret of the Unicorn” and “Ant-Man.” Wright, an executive producer on “Attack the Block,” was in attendance Saturday for introductions and a post-screening Q&A, as were Cornish and actors Frost and Luke Treadaway. Wright collaborators Pegg and Anna Kendrick were in the audience as well.

“Attack the Block” opens with a group of inner-city South London boys mugging a woman. Shortly after, as they wander the streets aimlessly, they come across and kill what seems to be an alien creature. Lugging it around with them, they can’t convince anyone of what it is. When vicious black-furred creatures begin to swarm and attack them, things go from weird to worse. With a wild relentless energy and remarkable nighttime photography, “Attack the Block” is modulated by moments of comedy, but is overall less joke-oriented than one might expect given the filmmakers. It’s more a high-energy chase film as the kids fend off suspicious police, gun-toting drug dealers and, yes, extraterrestrial invaders.

In talking about the film during the Q&A Saturday night, Cornish rattled off easily 20 film titles he drew inspiration from, ranging from gang movies like “The Warriors,” “Streets of Fire” and “Rumble Fish” to monster movies such as John Carpenter’s The Thing,” “Predator” and “Gremlins.” In casting the film,  he saw thousands of kids and was particularly mindful of the untrained youngsters in 1979’s “Over the Edge.” Everything — the casting, the photography, the creation of the creatures — was designed to push the film to feel as real as possible…


— Mark Olsen in Austin, Texas


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