Nevertheless, a good and compact film to those fond of thrillers in a limited time and space.
Tower Block (2012)
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Nevertheless, a good and compact film to those fond of thrillers in a limited time and space.
While not really big in the story department, this does have a way of holding the tension pretty high. The cast is surely to "blame" for that at parts, too. Still don't expect too much and this might even exceed your expectations.
Fast forward to preset day London. The residents on the top floor of one such tower block have stubbornly remained in their flats until the council can rehouse them, despite threats from the developer who has acquired the land and to being victims of extortion by number one grunt of the block, Kurtis. When a resident is beaten to death in a vicious attack, all but one of the other tenants bolt their doors and hope the trouble will go away. But Becky's heroics count for nothing and her bruises cause her to withdraw, too. Then, one morning several months later, a sniper starts executing them.
The stylized title sequence sets the tone of the film with muted colours, camera angles that make heads tilt and an intensity that puts the viewer on edge from the outset. We know there'll be a shot fired sooner or later, but it's still a jolt when the initial shot happens. It certainly makes an impact We're given only the briefest introductions to the characters before the dying commences in style. It's ruthless when it happens and the 90-minute running time ensures the pace is tightened for maximum impact. But, though the journey is swift, Tower Block is far from being only about action and brutality. Each character who survives the initial onslaught is given (some) time to breathe and relationships are hastily forged where previously there has been barely a glance shared on the top floor.
The closest Tower Block comes to a star is Sheridan Smith, an actress who made her name in TV (Eyes Down, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps) and has earned plaudits and gongs on the stage in Legally Blonde and Hedda Gabler. In Tower Block, Smith states her intention to conquer the big screen, too, with a strong performance as a determined woman forced to lead a clutch of neighbours fighting for survival despite dwindling options and rising tempers.
Excellent as she is, Smith shares ownership of the limelight with Jack O'Connell (Eden Lake, Harry Brown) as Kurtis. Though Kurtis is utterly detestable from the moment we meet him, O'Connell subtly unravels him to reveal insecurities and fears that have been shrouded in a flapping cloak of aggression for years. Deep within this morally corrupt monster lies a code of conduct and a pragmatism that one can't help, well, if not liking then at least enjoying. And screenwriter James Moran has gifted him some of the funnies quips of the film.
The supporting cast forms a who's who of council estate characters and there's a certain amount of pleasure to be gained from guessing who's destined to become the next splatter of pulp across the wall. And when it inevitably arrives, each demise brings its own cocktail of wince and smile.
Moran, who is given a moment of glory with the presence of his Cockneys Versus Zombies poster, writes from within each character with the same tone he set in 2006's Severance. There are no pointless monologues of exposition, just beautiful, jagged and bitterly funny snatches of conversation that reflect each character's evolution from their reticence to reveal too much, to the spewing of emotion when their mortality is callously close. If this is anything to go by, next year's Silent Night of the Living Dead could be stunning.
Though last night's audience was woefully small, it was a preview screening and the buzz with which the viewers left was palpable and Tower Block is likely to be a film that steadily builds an audience via word of mouth. And so it should. It's an exciting, gritty, funny film and, in the current batch of 'films in towers', though it falls short of the virtually flawless The Raid, I suspect it ranks higher than Dredd and positively towers above Man on Ledge and Tower Heist.
Tower Block misses perfection for some silly mistakes it is impossible to point out here without giving away plot lines other than to say the final act of violence was three inches the wrong side of cheesy and when a certain character improvises with 'armour', only in the worst moments of Hollywood would it be adequate. But these are but silly errors of judgment in an otherwise riveting film that'll have you thinking twice before you thrown open the curtains.
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"Several months after witnessing a murder, residents of Tower Block 31 find themselves being picked off by a sniper" - As you can probably tell by this description, the film is shot entirely in one place. It is all mostly set in the top floor of a tower block, where around 10 residents are trying to escape after a mysterious sniper takes down members of their families. The surviving members all go out on to the hallway and the film really starts from here as they try to plan their escape.
The film managed to keep my attention the whole way through. The cast mostly gave good performances and as the film went on, characters seemed to suffer more brutal exits. All in all its a little predictable but still a good thriller film to pass the time (only 85 minutes).
Don't open the curtains
Overall 'Tower Block' is an average thriller but it's still enjoyable due to it's interesting and original premise and the fairly good acting. So despite the issues and I'd still give it a go as I'd doubt you will be disappointed.
"Tower Block," the first feature for UK co-directors James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson, focuses on the last remaining residents of the ironically-named Serenity House, a rundown building which is slated for demolition and has been abandoned save for its top floor. Eviction is on the horizon, no authorities are present to ensure anyone's safety, and a boy is brutally attacked with impunity. What happens next will challenge everyone's sanity and sense of moral judgment.
Nunn is an industry veteran, serving as First Assistant Director on two dozen titles prior to this directorial debut. Writer James Moran scripted "Severance," which I saw at my first Toronto Film Festival in 2006 after an auspicious Cannes debut. It was one of the biggest hits on the 2006-07 festival circuit. He also penned "Cockneys vs. Zombies" which played here at Fantastic Fest immediately following my "Tower Block" screening.
Every actor gets kudos for the movie's emotional punch, making it hard to single anyone out. But, as Kurtis, Jack O'Connell provides much of the heart and soul of the film, as well as its dry wit and comic relief. He was clearly the audience favorite here. Sheridan Smith, Jill Baker, Ralph Brown, Loui Batley, Russell Tovey, Steven Cree...all are affecting and outstanding.
Cinematographer Ben Moulden's appropriate reliance on hand-held camera with extreme closeups is crucial in capturing the dangerous confines in which the protagonists attempt to survive. Rapidfire action sequences are ratcheted up by the astute, sharp editing of Kate Coggins.
Lighting serves the narrative perfectly. The typical look of these buildings is cold, with a color palette that pushes the blue and pulls life out of the towers' public spaces, and "Tower Block" doesn't disappoint. Hallway lighting is dim and subdued with shadowy cold spots that often frame the actors in silhouette, almost giving the film a black and white appearance. Apartment interiors are warm with an amber glow, safe spaces where the innocent can find solace, at least for awhile.
Certain genres demand a soundtrack that helps build tension and enhance the desperation of the characters. Owen Morris' original score accomplishes this admirably. Sound design is spectacular and creates a character unto itself. Rarely have sound effects been used so effectively as a plot device in ways the viewer will discover.
This is a classic trapped group in peril piece, set in the narrow, claustrophobic hallways that define the titular tower block. As a familiar subgenre film, we have a general idea where the narrative will take us, so the key to the story lies in the ability of its ensemble cast to arouse audience empathy. Whether old or young, male or female, rough or sweet, mean or compassionate, including parents and children, victors and victims, and those who inevitably transform via dramatically satisfying arcs, there are sympathetic characters for every viewer. We can all relate to one or more of the residents, making palpable their fear and confusion. We become invested in who survives or not, and one thing I can guarantee: you will not be able to predict the outcome. In the end, that's why "Tower Block" exceeds expectations.
What makes the high-rise building fodder for freaky films? Perhaps it's simply the sight of these structures, haunting hulks of concrete and steel that beg the question, "What goes on behind those hundreds of windows?" "Tower Block's" answer? Don't go in. You may never get out.
We see someone running from some hoodies toward Tower Block 31. After being killed no-one wants to be involved although Becky (Sheridan Smith) witnessed the beating and has been hit also by the hoodies. The police isn't wanted in such areas. Life goes on until the tower block is under the eye of a sniper and is killing everyone.
It's the first attempt of UK co-directors James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson and they succeeded in their mission. Not only you wanted to know what is going on and who's the sniper it's also the acting of Sheridan and Jack O'Connell (Kurtis) that takes this flick to a higher level. It has an overall brutal look but you hear bullets fly and hit but it's almost never shown. The first hit is the goriest one and you just can't see it coming.
Enjoyable flick were scum needs each other to survive and where they also become friends to survive.
Gore 1,5/5 Nudity 0,5/5 Effects 3/5 Story 3/5 Comedy 0/5
The film starts quite slowly with after the pre-opening sequence. The majority of the characters are introduced and we learn quite a bit about them. I was glad to see Sheridan Smith and Russell Tovey, there acting was good to say they had an average script. I also enjoyed 'that kid from Harry Brown' (Jack O'Connel)'s performance.
The storyline is unique and interesting and once it gets going you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat and guessing who'll be killed.
Jack o'connell manages to turn a firstly hated character into a lovable rouge and is on occasions very humorous.
Overall the film is interesting and chilling with no major disappointment except a few plot points that were not explained; however, it still entertained me to the end.
The first time i saw Tom Hardy i knew he was a rough diamond,he just kept learning and polishing his act. I truly believe that this kid has the chops to make it to the top.
I also hope Sheridan Smith gets a big break, she is a hugely talented young lady. Watch the film you will be entertained. Watch out for Jack O'Connell, tell your friends, the kid is mesmerising.
The direction is top notch, building suspense throughout, delivering unpredictable shocks & events and developing some lovely relationships between the people trapped in the building. The cinematography and music score are spot on lending a hand to the overall gritty industrial mood of the environment and sense of impending doom & hopelessness. But it's not at all a depressing movie. It's actually quite uplifting. I loved the characters and their believable and interesting interactions. There was some top notch acting from several people and the character of one in particular was so well acted & developed I wanted to see more of him!! Several other characters were also very likable and engaging while others were infuriating but you still didn't want them to get hurt. It's a fine movie indeed that makes you care so much for the people they've invented that you feel sad when the movie ends and they've gone.
Yeah the plot had some holes here and there but they are not that significant in the context of how incredibly well this movie is put together. Most of the time it hung together well, people behaved as anyone would in the situation and it was mostly unpredictable. Special marks for having a strong female character, for not pulling punches about who "bites the bullet" and who doesn't and for the interesting side story of the alcoholic lad. And of course for the thoroughly fascinating stand-over guy. (I'll be looking for more movies with that young actor in them!!)
The "reveal" and final scene could possibly have been handled better, but I've seen a lot worse and I was happy enough with it. In any case, the journey to get there was so engrossing and enjoyable it really didn't matter.
The only truly (wholly) negative reviews I've read about this movie have focused on very trivial details (nit picking) &/or a couple of plot holes to proclaim this pretty much the worst movie in the history of the Universe. This seems a little petty & extreme to say the least. It's most certainly NOT the worst movie, nor is it the best but it's definitely one of the better ones, regardless of any flaws it may have. I say, you show me a movie totally without flaws and I'll find at least one anyway! :)
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and recommend it unreservedly for people who enjoy good drama, thriller, suspense, action movies etc and for those who like to see how a movie can be brilliant without the need for a huge budget and fancy effects.
The residents of the top floor of a high rise tower block - soon to be demolished - are targeted by a sniper who won't let them leave (alive, anyway). What follows is an hour and a half of a siege movie where they desperately try and find ways out. When I read the blurb about the film, I wondered how they could stretch that out for the full ninety minutes. I was pleasantly surprised when they did.
It's no classic, but enough of the characters are fun, stupid, or evil enough to take pleasure in watching and the typical 'stupid decisions' they normally make in these sorts of films are kept to a minimum.
My advice: suspend your disbelief and just give it a go if you like the sound of it. You could do worse (I found the only major plot point I found hard to stomach was how one sniper could effectively shoot everyone in 0.1 seconds as soon as he saw them at any window - seriously, he must be the best marksman in the world!).
One night when I had a load of friends over I suggested we watched it and this turned out to be a good decision.
Set predominately in a Tower Block as the title suggests, a group of neighbours who wouldn't normally socialise find themselves under siege by a sniper with unnerving accuracy. It's only a question of time before they're all picked off unless they can find a way to escape.
Put your realism aside for this one, as there's a few plot holes, but this is escapist drama and is clearly here to entertain and keep you on edge and this film does just that. It's well paced, with clear cut characters some who do border on the stereotype but never the less never fail to engage you. All of the actors do well here, but the stand outs are O'Connell and Sheridan Smith who slip in to their roles as the main protagonists quite comfortably. Nunn's direction is sharp and effective and keeps you entertained through out and while the ending is a little bit expected it still not the let down that others would have you believe.
A well made fun film that you can watch happily with popcorn for 90 minutes, all four us liked it.
Moving on a few months, the tower block is closing and the only residents that are left are in the top floor, and would you believe it? Some dirty rotter starts taking pot shots at them.
And they are really good, because they only have to stick their head or hand up near the window and its instant death....
Despite the fact that the premise is a bit silly, and all they had to do was to stay on the other side of the tower block, this film is a solid thriller, with great performances from Smith and O'Connell.
But a lot of work could have been done on the characters. We have all the generic parts you would expect from a movie.
The two Gangsters who may or may not have a secret.
The husband and wife who have been there for years.
A mother and child, who have just lost the man in their life.
The girl who everyone thinks is scum, but really has a heart of gold.
The lad who fancies the above.
And the hard man who everyone hates/fears, but comes good at the end.
And its if they all pick a ticket with a number on to see who gets offed first. If you take plausibility and throw it out of the window, its a good 90 minutes of no brain, tense action.
Its a shame it didn't get a wider release, but released so soon after The Raid, and Attack the Block, people must have had council flat fatigue...
Serenity House is the latest in a long line of high rise London tower blocks scheduled for demolition, with the niggling problem of a few remaining residents on the top floor. A year before, however, a young man was brutally murdered there and his killers never brought to justice because nobody talked. A year later, those remaining residents find themselves at the mercy of a sniper's rifle, as one by one they are plucked off as they try to work out how to survive and who is behind it.
These grim, gritty urban British dramas have all become pretty interchangeable, with some seemingly appearing out of nowhere on DVD, some getting maybe a limited release in theatres here and there and some enjoying more of a mainstream following. A familiar sight in these films tends to be the titular 'tower blocks', the high rising tenement complexes which, at the beginning of the film, are acknowledged as having originally being seen as a wondrous privilege after the second world war for those lower down the scale in society but which, over the years, deteriorated into decadent, run down hell holes, breeding grounds for crime. Despite it's impressive visual style and dark sense of foreboding, if Tower Block had gone down this same route of exploring social breakdown, it could simply have been an impressive but ultimately forgettable effort. As it is, it's a film in a league all of it's own, a hard hitting, unbearably tense and scary effort that works wonders.
The first 'sniper shot', as the first victim casually sits and talks with another character over some coffee, genuinely made me jump out my skin and sets the tone for what's about to follow. It shakes the foundations of a typical urban Brit flick and adds a high concept idea all of it's own that makes it stand out and keep you riveted. The grainy, drained out camera style and whirring digital soundtrack were already working when the film started, but as the story progresses, it works even better. In this already dismal, hopeless setting, we find a host of characters, some more sympathetic than others, thrown together and forced to over come their hostility and prejudices to one another in order to make it out alive.
Cast wise, it's best to focus on the two main characters, who also happen to be played by the trendiest, most up and coming stars. Jack O' Connoll is hardly stretching himself as a swaggering, tough talking wannabe bad boy, but that doesn't make his presence any less effective, and it's wise to play a part he tends to specialize in. As the heroine, Sheridan Smith delivers, as a feisty, determined young woman who tries to keep a cool head while everything around her goes mad. In their own way, all the supporting cast are as big a part in making it what it is and no one can be denied their dues.
In a genre that has a tendency to be a bit hit and miss, Tower Block is just a success, tense, atmospheric, jumpy, challenging, uneasy, claustrophobic and just a shattering new spin in a genre, that pays off splendidly. *****
What makes it good and watchable? The characters are everyday people believably portrayed by an accomplished cast of performers which helps a great deal. Sheridan Smith is excellent as our vaguely slatternly heroine and Jack O'Connell stands out as Kurtis, the block's resident criminal running a protection racket on the others. His particular cavalier brand of sociopathic thuggery makes for compelling watching.
Tension mounts as the group in-fight and bicker and are knocked off one by one as they try various mode of escape. Their plight is linked to the recent murder of a young man in building whereby they failed to help the police with their enquiries. Someone seems to be holding them responsible for not contributing to the perpetrators being caught. But who?
The identity of the antagonist when revealed is a bit of a letdown and stretches credibility, but apart from that it's a gripping little piece that achieves effective results with a minuscule budget. The gore content isn't massive and the special effects are sparse, but the minimalist overall style keeps it lean and fast-paced. If you enjoy serial-killer sniper flicks, like TARGETS, TWO MINUTE WARNING, PHONE BOOTH, etc, then you'll get a blast out of this little gem.
"Tower Block" is a movie that keeps you hooked from start to finish, with a simplistic plot that never becomes ridiculous or over the top, and even creates a realistic situation which does make it scarier and the fact that you don't know where or why the events in this movie are happening, which adds even more tension and terror to the proceedings.
Another terrifying factor of this movie is that no-one is safe even children, which in my opinion was very unsettling and the fact at the opening a young boy is banging on doors begging for help and nobody helps, which is sadly unrealistic. Tower Block really works as a thriller and as a horror movie and doesn't pull any punches and okay doesn't break any new ground but has enough violence and tension that makes an awesome movie.
It also helps that this movie has a cast and characters that are very real and played just right. Firstly Sheridan Smith plays the street smart Becky perfectly, who surprisingly becomes the group's leader and has all the right moves that makes her the ultimate final girl. Jack O'Connell also delivers a strong performance, its difficult portraying a guy who's at first unlikeable and awful, but as the numbers drop he becomes more and more rounded, and also Russell Tovey also another standout as the alcoholic loner.
All in all This movie works really well at crafting a claustrophobic atmosphere, with a brilliant cast that makes this experience feel very real.
I was drawn to this film by the fact it starred Sheridan Smith a highly talented, versatile and well known British actress. She is excellent in this and has good support from a strong supporting cast. Sharing the actor honours is Jack O'Connell as the resident yob Kurtis who is as menacing as they come. The surviving characters are an interesting mix some you sympathise with and some you most definitely don't.
The film builds a nerve shredding air of tension as the terrified and trapped inhabitants desperately try to escape from the tower block. The dialogue and the interaction between the characters is believable and for a film set in one place the story is admirably fast paced.
This is an interesting if highly implausible story but any flaws are more than made up for by the well acted unpredictable and explosive story line. I have seen a lot of low budget films but this one took me by surprise at just how good it was. This film deserves a much higher audience and is highly recommended.
Writer James Moran also did the dues on COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES and this film has much the same feel to it: a respect of B-movies and a genuine love of the genre. The story is simple and extremely shocking, punctuated with moments of in-your-face violence that lend gritty realism to the proceedings. In essence, it's a bunch of disparate characters trapped in a corridor by a sniper, and yet maximum tension is generated from such a scenario.
The actors are fine in their roles, with Sheridan Smith's resourceful heroine a modern-day Ellen Ripley, and Jack O'Connell's would-be villain undergoing a particularly interesting character arc. Also nice to see Ralph Brown on the screen some twenty years after ALIEN 3. The directors handle the material well, generating plenty of excitement, and even when the story dips into cliché as at the climax it still works well. TOWER BLOCK is hardly original, but it's nonetheless a well made and gripping little thriller.
Didn't think much to it at all. Pretty cheap British film. Some OK acting but all done before. Nothing challenging and the whole thing kind of bored me. You know it's not great when you fiddle on your phone instead.
If you want a top notch British crime film, don't waste an hour and a half on this, watch the wicked 'Welcome To The Punch' instead.
If this were a drink it'd be White Lightening cider.
A chavvy 3 out of 10 from me
CONS: The only thing that frustrated me was the description of the movie. I expected to watch this and have an amazing horror film, but this movie barely scraped by being an action drama. I understand there was guns, but that doesn't make it a horror, and the director and producer misunderstood that.