Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 by Brendon Connelly
I’ve been tracking Attack the Block pretty closely so far, and providing I can keep the scent, I’ll be up its backside until the premiere. According to director Joe Cornish, the film is “a lean, mean action adventure movie that pits a teen gang against an invasion of savage alien creatures” and “a comic book fantasy set where you’d least expect to find one”. I’ve made comparisons to Shaun of the Dead, but somebody rather more close to the production has told me it’s a bit more like the first twenty minutes of Clockwork Orange meets The Warriors.
At last, we’ve got a confirmed list of members of the film’s cast and crew. This not only includes Nick Frost and Luke Treadaway, as I’ve previously mentioned, but also Jodie Whittaker of Venus and Perrier’s Bounty. The other announced names are all newcomers. After the break I’ll dish a little on the roles these actors have been given, plus plenty more spoiler-free info.
Courtesy of Screen Daily, here’s a list of the ‘unknowns’ taking on the lion’s share of key roles in the film: John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones and Simon Howard. It’s hard to call which will be which, but essentially, they’ll be playing the youths who populate a South London tower block, almost always up to no good but now, called upon by circumstance to overcome an invasion of beasts from outerspace. Many of the characters have slang names – Probs, Mayhem, Biggz, Pest – and they pretty much all speak in modern slang. It would ruin the surprises to tell you which of these kids get slain by the aliens and which rise up and redeem themselves but the casting of unknowns will only help in twisting your assumptions.
In a “Director’s Statement” issued to the cast and crew, Cornish says of the slang dialogue:
The langauage the kids use in the film is authentic, much of it taken from a series of research interviews I did with South London kids. But though it’s crucial to me that the gang sound real, it’s equally crucial that their dialogue can be understood. Their vocabulary should be a cool, popcorny, comedic joy, not an obstacle to what they’re saying.
It’s a pretty dense dialect, though, and I think a few less adventurous audiences will take a few minutes to adjust, forget their fear of not understaning and roll with it.
Jodie Whittaker’s role is that of trainee nurse Sam. Cornish seems set to make the most of the role, and out of how she stands in contrast to Moses, a gang member who is, essentially, the film’s lead.
The aliens are being created through physical effects from Spectral Motion, though I’m sure some CG is going to come in to play once the good people of Double Negative start their work on the film. Cornish had talked of “a visually new, potentially very scary and fairly simple to execute” design for the alien beasts, so I’m very, very interested to see what they end up looking like. From the information I’ve been able to gather, they sound like feral and ferocious versions of the stupid, stupid rat creatures from Jeff Smith’s Bone.
To the extent that the creatures are requiring some man-in-suit, the man in the suit is apparently none other than Terry Notary, an expert in “inhuman” movement who helped choreograph Nightcrawler in X-Men 2 and Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, and who has contributed to the motion capture in both Avatar and Tintin.
The production design for Attack the Block is by Marcus Rowland, previously responsible for Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. He would have collaborated with Home Front in conceiving and building the playground set. Here’s some pictures of it, courtesy of Squeal Like a Pig.
The official word is that production is just beginning, but seeing as this playground set has already been done with and is now dismantled, and that I posted an on-set video weeks ago, I think we can assume Cornish and co. are deep into production.
Tom Townend is serving as the film’s cinematographer. Last year, he won a Creative Circle Gold Award for his work on a Skins promo and was the DP for Samantha Morton’s The Unloved, as well as being a regular camera operator for Lynn Ramsay. He’s definitely shot a lot of urban and teen stories, and (more importantly) shot them well.
I’m working on getting more information that I can share with you. The more I find out about this film, the more excited I become – and I expect it will be the same for you.