Anyone who’s been around long enough to remember enjoying the cheapie American horror films of the 1950s is going to get a big kick out of “Attack the Block.” It’s a cheapie British horror film, cut from the same cloth as “The Blob,” in which something falls from the sky, wreaks havoc on a small town where the police force is useless, and it’s up to teens to save the day.

Anyone who’s been around long enough to remember enjoying the cheapie American horror films of the 1950s, or has been curious enough to add them to their Netflix queues – and enjoy them – is going to get a big kick out of “Attack the Block.” It’s a cheapie British horror film, cut from the same cloth as “The Blob,” in which something falls from the sky, wreaks havoc on a small town where the police force is useless, and it’s up to teens to save the day.


But “Attack the Block” is also a comedy, and ends up being an odd mix of laughs and scares, while filling its story with social commentary, examples of unexpected heroism, extremely low-rent visual effects and plenty of violence.


Many American viewers are going to have some trouble understanding what some of the characters are saying near the beginning, what with their thick South London accents, but it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s going on.


The opening shot offers a big clue. A bright light way up in the sky slowly wafts earthward, unnoticed by anyone due to all of the celebratory fireworks down below.


We’re in the bad part of town, where muggings are commonplace, and just such an incident is committed on Sam (Jodie Whittaker), a young nurse on her way home along a dark street. She lives in a huge complex nicknamed the Block, what the Brits call a council estate (the kind of place portrayed in the Michael Caine film “Harry Brown”). Coincidentally, her attackers – a gang of five teenage would-be street thugs – also live in the Block.


It’s during the robbery that the source of that light in the sky appears, and it ain’t a pretty sight. Stumpy and hairy and screeching, it hits the ground, goes after the teens, and is killed by their unusually stoic, self-proclaimed leader Moses (John Boyega).


Let the string of clever and inventive plotlines begin. What do you do with an ugly carcass from another world? You bring it to the local drug dealer, hoping he’ll make a handsome offer for it. What do you do when other creatures come looking for the first one, and they’re vicious and bloodthirsty and have very sharp, very bright, green glowing teeth? You run. But then you say, hey this is my turf. And then you get on motor scooters and bicycles, and you grab baseball bats and small swords and even some of those fireworks, and you stand your ground.


The film stays firmly entrenched in the science fiction genre. And it presents and holds on to the frenetic energy of its youthful cast through swirling camera work, fast editing and loud music. There’s plenty of comic relief via the stoned-out performances of big Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead”), who runs Ron’s Weed Room, and wide-eyed Luke Treadaway (one of the Siamese twin rock stars in “Brothers of the Head”) as the small-time pot dealer Brewis.


But there are also a couple of good dramatic stories going on, and some thought has been put into the script. Sam and her attackers are forced to work together against the common enemy (she, being a nurse, initially tends to the bite wounds of one of them), and the main point of the film settles on an examination of what it takes to be a hero, or at least a genuine leader, by taking responsibility for your actions.


A word to the squeamish: There’s more of a body count than you would expect from a sci-fi comedy, and some of the deaths are achieved in a gory manner. But the laughs do keep coming back, and even more important, as the film moves on, it gets easier to pick up on the rhythms of the accent, and you eventually understand exactly what everyone is saying.


ATTACK THE BLOCK (R for violence, language, drug use.) Cast includes John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Nick Frost, Luke Treadaway. 3 stars out of 4.