Movie Review – Grabbers

grabbers poster

Deep sea stuff is scary. I don’t want to encounter a giant squid on a nice pleasant scuba dive (although I don’t think I’ll be diving anytime soon anyway), and who knows what else is down in those dark crevices we just haven’t found yet. It’s baffling to me how some can immediately dispel the notion that there might be monsters at the bottom of the ocean. Anywho, Grabbers, an Irish horror comedy from director Jon Wright and writer Kevin Lehane, doesn’t give us sea monsters exactly, but aliens who dive-bomb into the sea from space, live on water, and suck the blood of their victims with long vampirish tongues.

These squid-like things have mated and laid their eggs on land, and they’ve also taken the lives of a couple of fisherman by eating them nearly whole but leaving the heads to roll around in the sand. The Irish community of Erin Island happens to be plagued by these alien bloodsuckers, and it’s up to O’Shea (Richard Coyle) and Nolan (Ruth Bradley) to get everyone in the town drunk so that they don’t become alien food.

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Yes, that’s right, I said drunk. Grabbers is a pretty standard monster movie; it follows the course of countless others over its 90 minute runtime. But it has one thing going for it, and that’s the plot element that the victims need to stay drunk in order to survive the alien invasion. Since the squiddies drink human blood, it makes sense that consuming a shit-ton of alcohol would actually poison the aliens, making them either sick or dead.

At first, it seems like Grabbers is trying to play off of that age-old stereotype that Irishmen drink a lot, simply for the shocks. But the film is actually very coy in its approach to the situation, and despite a few F-bombs dropped (in Irish, it’s “feck”) and a couple of violent scenes, Grabbers could be a somewhat family-friend romp. It’s not an overly violent film, and instead of looking for scares, it’s looking for laughs because of its absurd plot. That’s good enough for me, because as a serious film about aliens on an island, Grabbers probably wouldn’t survive.

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But as a comedy, the film is more successful. Coyle plays his role like a straight man, although there are a few moments where his character acts like the bumbling officer he’s made out to be. Bradley gets the funnier role, mostly because she gets to act drunk for about half of the film. The humor isn’t limited to drunk jokes and stumbling, however, and Lehane’s script makes use of the outrageous situations to full effect.

I thought the drunk antics would be a ridiculous ploy to get frat boys’ mouths watering, but that’s thankfully not the case. Grabbers‘ science makes sense, and getting drunk is probably one of the best options during this squid-alien invasion. The characters still make dumb mistakes, and some questionable decisions are made, but overall the logic behind the film is somewhat solid, at least for a horror comedy.

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And the most important part? The characters are all likable, even as absurd caricatures. I loved how Grabbers felt like an ’80s B-movie like Humanoids from the Deep; it’s a throwback to those films where the monsters still have rubber suits with zippers, and Grabbers does it well.

Wright understands that he really needs to ham up the humor with the film, and even if Grabbers is pretty generic as a monster movie, the comedy portions ensure that nothing gets boring. I surprised myself by liking this movie so much; what seems like a momentous disaster actually becomes a very enjoyable film that uses its cliches and improbable scenarios to its advantage. And with the recent slew of excremental monster movies, Grabbers is as refreshing as a frothy pint of lager on a hot summer day.

Thanks to IFC Midnight for screener.

Grabbers on Rotten Tomatoes

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