The New Youth: Attack the Block

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All of the best horror movie lists for 2011 I’ve read include Attack the Block directed by little known filmmaker Joe Cornish. The entire film reminded me of Misfits in it’s dark urban portrayal of youth in Britain. The film follows the lively gang pictured above, and seemingly the only ones who realize that an alien invasion is threatening their block. A plethora of questions arise throughout the film (Such as why only this block of London? Why only this group of hooligans?) but all are answered satisfyingly within a tightly wrapped mystery.

The film centers around the main gang member, Moses, who is quickly being swept into a world of muggings, drug dealing, and general debauchery. This trope of “angry young men” is by no means a new one in the world of British literature and film studies. And this film exemplifies it beautifully: a group of angry young men, frustrated and lashing out at the world which suppresses them. Seeing no real future for themselves they turn to general rough housing and illicit activities. Does this ring bells? Perhaps to these colourful young characters?

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Or even these memorable ones?

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And those are just two examples off the top of my head. Obviously this is a long standing tradition. What Attack the Block offers is a delightful twist on the trope. Aside from the obvious one of aliens, this film watches as these young boys begin to work together, instead of allowing the world around them to burn they join forces and fight for something they truly care about, perhaps something they didn’t even realize they cared about until it came under fire: their block, their neighborhood, and their home.

This adaptation of the trope is a unique one and offers a hopeful twist on the bleak trope. It even suggests a shift in consciousness after over 50 years of this anger (Think John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger, 1956). Instead of accepting ones “fate” they are taking the quality of life into their own hands and using a shared common experience to unite one another rather than further alienating themselves.

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