Director: Jon Wright; Screenwriter: Kevin Lehane; Starring: Richard Coyle, Russell Tovey, Ruth Bradley; Running time 94 mins; Certificate: 15
This Irish/British horror-comedy deals with menacing tentacles of an extraterrestrial kind, with an inspired premise, appealing cast and mix of laughs and thrills ensuring it’s destined for cult status. Yet it provokes the lingering feeling that the scripts fails to fully capitalise on some strong ideas, lacking in enough inventive scenarios and one-liners.
The B movie storyline is fitting for the booze-soaked festive season. It revolves around a group of locals on a remote island discovering that the tentacled creatures that have invaded their realms won’t suck the blood of anyone with lots of alcohol in their veins. To get through the ordeal, they need to be inebriated – much like most people feel at Christmas.
Coupling’s Richard Coyle excels as alcoholic law enforcer Ciarán O’Shea, whose melancholic behavior stems from a turbulent past that is unfortunately shoehorned into the plot in an awkward manner. However, the character’s trajectory as a loser-turned-hero works well thanks to Coyle’s versatility.
O’Shea also forms a formidable pairing with Ruth Bradley’s visiting copper Lisa Nolan, a ‘fish out of water’ figure who is at the receiving end of his sozzled seduction attempts. When the roles are reversed and Nolan has to imbibe to survive, Bradley provides much of the movie’s mirth with her hilariously inebriated turn. It’s just a shame that their relations end up conforming to conventions, culminating in a nauseating and contrived climax.
Russell Tovey is also a particular delight to watch as marine biologist Dr Smith, whose eccentricities recall another type of Doctor from the planet Gallifrey. It’s a shame he is not accorded more prominence in the plot, which does feel a bit too lightweight at times.
A few cracking one-liners are interspersed throughout Grabbers and help to sustain interest, but where such B movies usually provoke laughs of derision is through ropey special effects. Surprisingly, this is far from the case here as the giant vagina/squid-like entities are brilliantly realized. Much of the movie’s visual effectiveness is down to director Jon Wright’s smart direction, which builds tension and harnesses the CGI well without overexposing it.
On the subject of exposure, it’s frustrating that movies like Grabbers tend to struggle to garner much publicity or multiplex interest on their home soil. Despite its flaws, it does a good job at tackling the notoriously problematic horror comedy genre, and the humor is distinctly geared towards British and Irish viewers. So please do make an effort to show it some love over Christmas, which is a time for giving and grabbing…