I used to love the Adam and Joe show and just about anything Joe Cornish and Adam Buxton have done since so I had some high expectations for this low budget horror comedy. It got great reviews when it was released back in 2011 but for some reason I just never got round to watching it
It starts off with Jodie Whittaker walking along at night in with some foreboding John Carpenter style music (I started to like it from this point!) when she meets five gang members.
The five characters led by Moses (John Boyega of Star Wars fame) predictably turn out not to be just one dimensional mindless violent ASOB accredited yobs, but actually just bored kids who were just as scared as Jodie when they mugged her.
I said it was a horror comedy, maybe not so much the comedy, it doesn’t have any jokes as such, you just tend to laugh at the characters and their faults. The two younger kids Probs and Mayhem are great, just wanting to be like the bigger badder kids, who they look up to, who are in turn just little twerps to Hi-Hatz who ‘owns this block’.
I hate reviews that just go on and tell you what happens, so I won’t, but I will say one thing about the aliens, they are really, really cool… they don’t look like crazy plastic looking CGI monsters, they look real but with a strange other-worldly look to them. The blackness of them is great, perhaps it was just to a cheap way to avoid spending ££ on CGI but the ‘vantablack‘ gives them a really different look, so you know they aren’t from this world, they are just pure black, no reflection or detail and this contrasts beautifully with their glowing eyes… “I can see it’s eyes”… “I’m not sure those things is eyes!”
We are given some kind of theory of their backstory, thanks to the handy stoner zoologist who happens to hang around in the block but the story isn’t really about them, it’s about the gang of boys and them trying to find a place for themselves in a world where they feel attacked from all sides, whether it be The Feds, Hi-Hatz or ‘big gorilla-wolf motha fuckas things’. Jodie Whittiker plays a great part as Sam, a nurse, a profession well respected by society yet not respected enough to pay her enough to live somewhere other than ‘The Block’ The film shows nicely how society has turned it’s back on the boys but equally doesn’t really give much to Sam either despite the good she does.
There is a real (but perhaps slightly over the top) authenticity about it, Joe (yep I’m just calling him Joe) spent a year researching South London youth culture before writing and it is clearly evident, all of the kids were all virtual newcomers who talk and act in the way they would, not a way built for a risk free, everyone can relate to and understand way, which many other filmmakers would have gone (or told to have gone by the grey film execs) and yet is still followable by even old fuddy-duddys (I’m probably showing my fuddy-duddyness by calling them that….), despite all the slang the use, will get what they are talking about, you might not know all of the words they use but you get them meaning and this gives it a real charm.
In a way it reminds me a bit of a more adult episode of Dr Who (maybe that’s where they got the idea to hire Jodie, you heard it here first) with the low budget, fun and interesting creature side but it certainly doesn’t hold back with the violence and the gore, oh no, there are some pretty brutal flesh cutting scenes but more in the over the top gore style than the really realistic disturbing way.
Overall it’s a great low budget horror which is played through the eyes of young inner city kids, rather than your typical Tom Cruise alien busting hero. It’s fun, action packed, tense funny and does have a bit of depth to it, perhaps if you are a Daily Mail reader you’ll be shocked to see all young inner city kids aren’t knife wilding thugs, but human, kids and heros.