Review - Grabbers


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Creature features don't come more sloshed than this
Grabbers (2012)
Jon Wright
Ruth Bradley, Richard Coyle
Release Date:
Age Rating:

When people start disappearing on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, a new gardai and the local law enforcement have to battle a creature from beyond… by getting drunk.

Grabbers is the second feature from Irish born and England bred filmmaker Jon Wright, who previously brought us the rather forgettable bully-revenge flick Tormented. This time around, not only does Wright have a pretty epic premise on his hands, he also delivers some serious entertainment value - stemming from an effective script by Cork man Kevin Lehane.

Grabbers is about a race of tentacle creatures who descend on a small island village where an iterative process of elimination reveals that their penchant for blood can be quashed by the excessive consumption of alcohol. Cue scenes of drunken carousel intercut with creepy monster moments.

It’s a gleefully ridiculous set up, preying on the notion of the perpetually drunken Irish without ever quite seeming condescending and providing some surprisingly competent genre moments along the way. Much of that efficacy stems from the top drawer CG on offer, all handled by London based effects house Nvizible. The creature design is interesting if familiar and the interaction with the world, and some challenging lighting and textures, is truly world class. More subtle effects proliferate and help to add an extra sheen to this otherwise low budget feature.

Beyond the sterling effects work, Grabbers mainly gets by with a lightly comedic tone, predicated on the notion of laughing at small town Irish stereotypes and drunken oafishness. It’s clear that these elements are meant in a light hearted way and it works for the most part, but the giggles at inebriation may become trying for some.

Wright has gathered a decent cast for Grabbers, lead by English actor Richard Coyle – who I still associate chiefly with TV show Coupling for some reason. He’s joined by the surprisingly effective Ruth Bradley, a local TV fixture who has made the transition to the US in a new ABC pilot for this autumn. Stock Irish characters fill in their expected roles, including the ubiquitous Ned Dennehy, Bronagh Gallagher and David Pearse.

Despite its supposed genre, Grabbers never really fulfils its horror remit – the kills are mostly bloodless and there’s little focus on the claret. And it never really becomes a problem as the few monster scenes are well handled and skew more towards suspense and whenever the pacing flags you can expect some wry humour or a well-time drunken pratfall.

Grabbers comes to screens with an enjoyable premise but manages to also remember to create an entertaining film around that frame. The monsters are great, the cast is game and if the comedy falls too often into familiar patterns at least it’s trying to keep the audience engaged. Special mention for the rich lensing from Trevor Forrest and a loud and evocative score from Christian Henson which suggests he’s been watching all the right movies from the 70s and 80s.

7 Stars
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