The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Sorry but the charm of those thugs escaped me

with 27 comments

When I pick movies, I often go by what I hear from people like you. The reviews in my morning paper mean a lot less to me than the views of fellow bloggers, forum dwellers and the regular guests who make contributions in the comment section. You could call me weak, indecisive and easily persuaded. A nicer way to put it is to say that I’m open to suggestions and ideas. In any case, I listen to what you say. It’s very rare that I get disappointed.

When you write up movies, you do it for good reasons. It’s rare that I encounter something that is an unmotivated hype.

But on rare occasions it happens that I just scratch my head after following your advice, unable to see what all the buzz was about. And I’m afraid this was the case with Attack the Block.

I think it has to do with the genre. To be honest, the mix of horror and comedy isn’t one of my favorites. I think it might have to do with that I’ve basically avoided horror movies the last 20 years of my life. This means that about half of the jokes are lost on me; I don’t get the references. Occasionally a horror-comedy makes me laugh; for instance I was charmed by a movie from New Zealand a few years ago named Black Sheep (I think you can figure out what the monsters were like without watching it.) And don’t ask me to explain why.  The moment you try to describe humor you kill it as we all know.

Considering this I suppose there’s no real point in asking you to explain what was funny about Attack the Block. Either you get it or you don’t. And as of the scary part, that didn’t work particularly well either. The quick cuts couldn’t hide that those fluffy aliens looked like oversized prizes from a tombola and the novelty of their glowing gaps wore off pretty quickly.

I’ve kept thinking and thinking about why I couldn’t connect with this movie. I watched those kids fighting off aliens in a sinister suburban house block. But I couldn’t care less if they succeeded or not. They were introduced as thugs, equally annoying and frightening, the kind of party that I would go a mile extra to avoid if I spotted them. And as the movie went by there was very little in it that convinced me that I had been wrong in my judgment and that they deserved to win over the monsters.

It could have been saved if the monsters had been likable, but you can’t really say that either.

I ended up caring for no one and laughing at nothing. Maybe I’m older and duller than I imagined.

Well, I suppose we can’t agree about everything. Next time you’ll tip me about a movie I might like, I’ll listen and take your advice to my heart. Let’s just forget about this one

Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, UK, 2011) My rating: 2/5

Written by Jessica

March 1, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

27 Responses

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  1. Even though I’m probably known for being an art-house film geek, I’m also the kind of guy that loves these kind of genre films. I understand why you’re probably not into and I can totally respect that.

    For me, I watched that film and I was acting like a kid with immense glee. I was into the characters and the stakes they’re dealing with. It was a better film that I thought it would be.

    If I was the one who suggested to see it. I apologize but you gave it at least didn’t dismiss it entirely.

    Steven Flores

    March 1, 2012 at 1:34 am

    • I can’t accuse anyone particular for directing me to it. I’ve just seen it getting a lot of love a bit of everywhere so I rented it and went home and introduced it to my baffled family who couldn’t see the greatness either.

      The thing is that I’m able to like movies that aren’t entirely seriousness about its scariness. Take Super 8 for instance. It’s slightly humorous, but as opposed to Attack the Block it has heart and nostalgia and I could sympathize with the characters. This one was just beyond my grasp.


      March 1, 2012 at 7:56 am

  2. I agree with you about the whole ‘wtf’ reaction to the buzz of Attack the Block.

    Like you, I didn’t really warm to the film. I mean, it is a perfect target for me (I’m in the age range, I love sci-fi, horror, and mixing those two with a bit of hilarity), but Attack the Block didn’t do anything for me.

    Not to mention that it sounded like Cornish wrote the dialogue, a middle-aged man who knows nothing about slang. (Shuddering even thinking about it). I find it quite unlikely that he even asked any London teenagers about that side of the film, despite making out that he has.

    Mind you, I didn’t think that they were really ‘thugish’ per se, just pretty hapless and not likable in the slightest.

    Glad to know I am not alone in not understanding the hype around Attack the Block, though.


    March 1, 2012 at 1:42 am

    • Cheers, Cherokee! I expected only to get comments from people telling me I was wrong. But apparently there are more then me who reacted with a “wtf”.


      March 1, 2012 at 7:53 am

      • Just a quick note on what others have said, too on the horror front – I am a massive horror fan, but still didn’t get into Attack the Block – and on the slang side of things, well, that’s what I’ve grown up with and am still growing up with now, but the way it was used in the film just sounded like it was ancient and damn cringy!

        Aw well, films can’t please everyone I guess.

        And no problem, Jessica! It’s good to know sometimes you’re not in a boat alone on something, particularly a film no one seems to find faults with when there are massive ones here…


        March 2, 2012 at 1:21 am

        • OK, then it wasn’t jsut me being a horror or slang noob being the problem. Maybe I just… didn’t like it. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.


          March 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

  3. Sorry you didn’t like it, Jessica – it’s one of those polarising film experiences: you either love it, or you simply say “meh” to it all. I guess the films major tripping point was intriducing the main cast as thugs and scumbags, which is always going to make the mountain of getting us to care about them all that much higher. Cornish’s success with this depends entirely on your willingness to accept that these young kids have made bad decisions and perhaps through their actions, are set on a brighter path. At least, that’s what I took out of it.

    But I loved the monsters. They were cool.


    March 1, 2012 at 3:41 am

    • I think you’re spot on. To me that obstacle was too high. I’m afraid I couldn’t take them to my heart.


      March 1, 2012 at 7:52 am

  4. 😦


    Corey Atad

    March 1, 2012 at 6:32 am

  5. I don’t really expect to get involved with characters in this kind of movie, they are more often than not stupid jerks. And with that premise I found it quite enjoyable. And yes, listening to the buzz can have its definite drawbacks 😉


    March 1, 2012 at 9:16 am

    • They can be stupid jerks but still have some kind of charm and then I’m fine. I just thought it wasn*t engaging. But all movies can’t work for everyone, that’s just how it is.


      March 1, 2012 at 9:29 am

  6. I think it helps to be a horror fan. I loved the John Carpenter inspired score. The monsters are the weakest part and I agree it is difficult to warm to the characters, especially after the early mugging. It’s the characters of Pest and Jerome that really sold it to me. Pest makes me laugh, Jerome seems like a nice kid in with a bad crowd. And Moses at least makes quite a cool hero by the end. Also very impressive for a directorial debut. Apart from those aliens, I think it looks like a big budget movie. Enjoyed the slang too, I teach kids that talk like that!


    March 1, 2012 at 9:59 am

    • Yeah, I’m vary unfamilliar with the horror genre and that probably doesn’t help. I tend to like small budget movies, they tend to bring out the creativity, using the limited resources optimally. But in this case it wasn’t enough to charm me. The quality of the slang is beyond my grasp I’m afraid since I’m Swedish. In this kind of movies I think I rely on the subtitles (without thinking about it, it’s a second nature of mine.)


      March 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

  7. I’m like you as well when it comes to go by what I’m hearing from fellow bloggers. Never really read reviews in papers or the like and yeah, there are always some movies that everyone seems to love and you can’t connect to as much (recently had that with The Muppets for example). Personally I really liked it a lot (it ended up in my top 10), but I have read some other reviews from fellow bloggers who had the same feeling you did or didn’t care about the characters.


    March 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    • I haven’t seen those who feel like me about it, but it’s good to know there are some out there.


      March 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm

  8. Totally get your reaction to the kids being thugs that you would go an extra mile to avoid. Because they are. But that’s what I liked about going with that particular angle. Because when the evil aliens DO come in all likelihood we won’t have a choice as to who will be on our side to fend off the attack. It was the ultimate setting aside of barriers for this woman and these kids to team up and save the world.


    March 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    • … or you could just get the hell out of their and let the aliens take them. Problem solved. 🙂


      March 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm

  9. I agree with a lot of commenters here. If you love and appreciate the horror genre, there’s only a tiny possibility that you won’t like this film. Take it you’re not a big fan of the likes of Shaun of the Dead then? It’s in a similar vein.

    I love Attack the Block. The kids in it are the kind of kids I hate running into on the street, but they felt like real characters. Well, a bit of the extreme, but they’re real kids.

    All the London slang probably doesn’t help in your enjoyment. It’s stuff I laugh at because while I know what it all means, I find it kinda hilarious.

    I’ll fallback on the cliche – if we all liked the same things, life would be kinda dull.


    March 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    • I’m afraid I haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead. About horror – well, admittedly I’m not all that experienced in it. Frankly I’ve been avoided it for a few years. But this year I’ve seen a few classics like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and enjoyed it very much. Perhaps I should do a horror marathon 🙂


      March 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      • The Exorcist is a wonderful classic. Yet to see Rosemary’s Baby, it’s on my list. I really enjoy horror, but feel I need to see some classic horrors. A horror marathon sounds like a good idea!


        March 2, 2012 at 10:50 pm

  10. I am usually a horror fan, but I agree with you on this one. I couldn’t stand any of the characters and didn’t really care what was going on either. This is one of those rare films I didn’t bother reviewing because I had nothing good to say about it.

    Bonjour Tristesse

    March 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    • Understandable. The sad thing is that if everyone thinks like you, I’ll end up with an impression that this is a movie-not-to-be-missed that everyone else likes, while this actually isn’t the truth. Those who didn’t just didn’t blog about it.


      March 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      • You make a very good point, but I have trouble motivating myself to write negative reviews. Especially when there are an ever growing queue of good films to cover.

        Bonjour Tristesse

        March 2, 2012 at 6:35 am

        • I make it easy for myself, focusing on movies I believe I’ll like. And I rarely get disappointed.


          March 2, 2012 at 8:36 am

  11. I’ve seen it a few months ago and I felt the same. They’re tugs, why should I care for them? I didn’t. And that’s what’s wrong with this movie.

    I was hoping for a fun, nonsensical movie but it missed the fun.

    Oh, I agree with Jaina, Shaun of the Dead is a really fun horror-comedy. Well worth watching.


    March 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

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