In a crime-ridden estate in South London, a group of teenage misfits defend their block from an alien invasion. At the beginning of the film, these teenagers rob a white woman that recently moved into their block. I think it was a brave decision to start the movie this way, however I do think it served a purpose. We as an audience often stereotype characters and the action of robbing the woman, may have confirmed certain stereotypes on said characters. However, throughout the film, we realise that these teenagers are better people than we are first made to believe.
Sam, the woman they robbed decides to stick with the them, in order to survive the invasion. As an audience, our view of the teenagers changes along with Sam’s. She initially has a prejudice against them, after being robbed and held at knife point. However, over the course of the film, she learns to understand and sympathise with their situations.
An example of this is shown in one powerful scene in particular, that really speaks to me. Moses, the ring leader of the group and also the one who lead the robbery against Sam, instructs Sam to go into his apartment. When she arrives, she asks him who else lives there and finds out that most of the time he lives on his own. Sam walks past his child-like bedroom, evident by the football duvet covers. She suspects that it must be the room of a younger brother of Moses. She asks if he has a younger brother and he denies that he does. Sam suddenly realises that the group of teenagers are younger than they seem, she asks Moses how old he is and to her surprise, she finds out that he is only fifteen. Sam, along with the audience, begin to sympathise with his situation and realise that he must have been desperate for money when they attempted to rob the woman.
Another scene that challenges our initial stereotypes, is when all the teenagers go back to their rooms to gather weapons to fight against the aliens. As they leave, most of them talk to their mothers or guardians as a 15 year old boy would, using phrases like “I’ll just be 10 minutes, I promise”. One character, called Pest, wears a knitted hat throughout the film, which at first could be seen as fashion statement. However, when he picks up his weapons, we find out that his guardian is his nan and so we can assume that his hat was most likely a gift from her. This sense of innocence contradicts our initial prejudices against the teenagers.
The teenagers are very loyal to everyone within the block that they live in, almost as if everyone is apart of one family. This is evident when the group find out that Sam recently moved into the block, upon hearing this they say “If we knew you lived in the block, we wouldn’t have robbed you”. Furthermore, the block is almost like their entire world. It’s all they’ve ever known and throughout the film, there are no shots taken from outside of the block. I think this may have been done intentionally to establish this.
On top of this, they believe that everyone outside their block is out to get them. One quote ‘First they sent in drugs, then they sent guns and now they’re sending monsters in to kill us.’ perfectly describes their distrust and angst towards the outside world and the people that don’t understand their situation.
All in all, I enjoyed the film. The character development and the way that this film challenges our stereotypes on certain characters, is really what makes this film worth a watch. There are a lot of comedic one liners, made funnier by the accuracy of the colloquial language used. This is due to the fact that the director, Joe Cornish, noticed that children living around the block they were filming in, were checking out the production out of curiosity. He approached them and asked them to read through the script to check if the slang they used was accurate. They made some changes, which got put through into the final script of the film.
If you’re looking for a teenage alien equivalent to Shaun of the Dead then I would definitely recommend this film to you.