Grabbers is, without a doubt, the best film about drunken Irish people fighting sea monsters I have ever seen. I think it’s fair to say that’s not a saturated genre, so I’ll clarify: Grabbers is a genuinely funny, original sci-fi that perfectly executes its ridiculous-sounding premise. A blood-sucking sea monster from outer space has landed off the coast of Ireland, and puts everyone in danger of having their veins sucked dry – until the local Garda figure out that drunkenness puts the creatures off, as the blood alcohol content poisons them. Then all havoc really breaks loose as a bar full of drunken villagers tries to fend off the invading vampire-squids with water pistols and nail guns.
Like Pusher, one of the films we saw earlier in the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Grabbers stars the ever-so-talented Richard Coyle, alongside the gorgeous Ruth Bradley, whose characters form an interesting dynamic of alcoholic versus workaholic respectively. By the time we see the majority of the cast completely wasted in the finale, we know their characters thoroughly, from the deadbeat, home-brewing Paddy, to the owner of setting Erin Island’s only bar, Brian – and the characters are part of what makes Grabbers so much fun to watch. It’s not a smart, award-winning movie by any means, but it’s charming, exciting, and dripping with enough tentacle slime to keep monster movie fans happy.
… sharper than
Slither and more
In fact, the special effects in Grabbers are unexpectedly spectacular; although it’s clearly a low-budget production which avoids showing its primary antagonist whenever it can, there are more than a few clear views of the main monster and its spawn, and they’re all impressive in their visual fidelity. The hiding of the monster is also in some ways a throw-back to Jaws, one of the films parodied in Grabbers alongside Aliens and a few other classics. There’s also a fitting soundtrack of strings and percussion that’s a little more uncommon in modern sci-fi flicks, but certainly well suited to the sort of intentional cheesiness which accompanies the action.
So long as you don’t take Grabbers too seriously, you’re in for a lot of laughs. It generally avoids going over-the-top, and the one truly ridiculous scene in the middle is ultimately made all the more hilarious for it (and serves as warning not to trust late-night invitations to “dance”). Plus, there’s something of a compelling romantic sub-plot that isn’t just about the tension between Ciarán (Coyle) and Lisa (Bradley), which appears rather abruptly, but also Lisa and Dr. Adam Smith (Russell Tovey), who’s absolutely fascinated with the creature – and, in being so, falls into an unfortunate character stereotype, which is only really excusable because almost every character is a variation on a stereotype.
Although there’s great potential for a Grabbers drinking game, the film alone is still good fun: the great dialogue, character dynamics, and subtle parodies come together to make a solid and entertaining film with a perfectly satisfying ending, plus a Godzilla-style epilogue to leave open the possibility of a sequel. Sharper than Slither and far more charming than Piranha 3D, Grabbers might just be the best creature feature of the past few years – and yes, that’s with Roger Corman’s range of cheesy Syfy Originals acknowledged. Don’t pass up the opportunity to see this one. (Particularly if you’re able to get to Galway Film Fleadh next month, where it makes up the opening show – details here.)