The title refers to an apartment complex built post-WWII, a title card informs us. Once attractive and affordable, the place deteriorated over the decades into England’s equivalent of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green, to the point of demolition.
As the thriller opens, only the top floor of Serenity House, aka Tower Block 31, awaits removal and rehousing. Those tenants find they face early eviction, so to speak, when the red dots of a laser-sighted weapon suddenly appear, and an unseen sniper starts shooting them through their windows. His or her aim is as uncanny as his or her motive is initially unclear.
Because of that, escape from the housing project is extraordinarily difficult, but watching them try is where the fun lies. Directed by first-timers James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson, Tower Block plays like a siege film along the lines of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, but not, mind you, with equal panache. Its main problem is that it is only sporadically thrilling; too much of the middle sags with bickering that grows tired faster than usual because the characters aren’t all that likable.
It is, however, a fairly slick first try that’s worth a rental. —Rod Lott