Grabbers (2012)

When one thinks of creature features, you generally associate them with small towns situated somewhere in the American heartland: some rural place where a handful of locals must fend off/barricade themselves against some rampaging monstrosity. Generally, you don’t usually tend to associate ‘monster on the loose’ movies with Ireland… That is until now: because that’s exactly what you’ve got here: a monster flick that while not actually set in Ireland, is actually located on one of its many small islands – ‘Erin Island’ to be precise. Garda Ciarán O’Shea (Richard Coyle) – Garda is what Irish police officers are called, by the way – and his colleague look after all things law related on Erin Island. When his colleague goes on holiday, rookie Garda Lisa Nolan (Ruth Bradley) is sent from the mainland to replace him for two weeks.

The only problem is her arrival coincides with something that has fallen to earth from space, which also contains a semi aquatic form of alien life. This strange creature then goes on the offensive and proceeds to snack on all the locals – drinking their blood. It’s up to the small local police contingent of O’ Shea and the rookie Nolan to figure out that the creature needs rain to move on land. The only problem is, with a bad storm coming in that will completely isolate them and the locals on the island, the outlook is not good; but somehow they discover a somewhat unorthodox way of protecting them and everyone against the creature – sort of. Lots of inventive high jinks and monster attacks ensue along with enough blarney and banter to make your head spin.

It is fair to say that the director and/or writer may have had one too many themselves when they dreamed up this concept. Admittedly, with a title like that, you’re not going to know what you’re getting yourself into. While it isn’t exactly a comedy, it isn’t completely a horror movie either. You get a mixture – for every one-liner, there’s a decapitation or messy slaughter thrown in. Tone –wise, it’s somewhere in between and comparable to other similar movies of this genera like Eight-Legged Freaks, Slither and Tremors. Heck, it even steals a line from the latter (“I discovered them, I get to name them”) and even the name of this movie ‘Grabber’ is a direct reference/lift of the term ‘Grabboids’ in the movie Tremors.

The game cast are uniformly good and put in a lot of effort. Everyone gets a fair share of mostly funny one-liners. There’s lots of eccentricity going on: the weary bar man and his interfering, nosy wife, a guy who keeps a monster in his bathtub and a babbling, eccentric British scientist, who’s not as smooth as he thinks. It shouldn’t all work, but, damn, somehow it does. The misty island locales play a vital part in adding a suitably unique atmosphere to the entire mix.

The creature effects – a combination of CGI and practical – are very effective and well done. The monster appears to be some sort of squid and possesses numerous tentacles (the ‘grabbers’ of the title). There are several stand out scenes with the creature; one – an attack on a car – is extremely effective. For a movie that was made on a comparably low budget, it has a slick look to it and seems quite expensive. Had this been made in the America, it’s fair to say it probably would have probably cost five or six times as much.

This movie wears all its inspirations like a heart on its sleeve. If you look closely, you will see many homages: Jaws, Alien, Aliens (“Get away from him, you c**t!”), and the aforementioned Tremors… why stop there: even the score bears a resemblance to Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Alien. Even the overall concept: a group of people trapped on an island during a bad storm while creatures run amok outside reminds you of a certain movie with dinosaurs. Now all you have to do it add in all the blarney and alcohol to the mix and you have something unique. And Irish.

Yes, admittedly, there is a lot of alcohol in this movie and it does play a major part in the overall story, which may not sit well on the shoulders of people who are offended by the ‘drunken Irish’ stereotype. Hell, even the lead actor is playing an alcoholic. However, a word to the wise: the fact is, they’re on an island with little else to do, so it’s no different to setting the movie in the American South in moonshine country: you kind of expect this sort of behavior. Besides, how can you hate a movie in which the heroine tries to be heroic while at the same time clumsily and tipsily lumbering through a potentially deadly situation?

Overall, this is a very good and effective movie. It’s smart and there’s a lot of laughs and wit thrown in. It’s well shot and directed, and is entertaining enough to keep your attention right to the very end. It has a pacey and swift running time so there’s no danger of it outstaying its welcome either. This is a movie for everyone – especially those who like horror and comedy or a mixture of both – and will play across cultural divides. If you liked any of the aforementioned movies, you will like this.